An industry-wide consortium, led by producer organisation G’s Growers and supported by the James Hutton Institute, the University of Dundee and James Hutton Limited, has won a UKRI-BBSRC collaborative training partnership award (CTP)to provide a £3.6 million postgraduate training programme in sustainable agricultural innovation.
The programme has been co-developed by the Institute as part of its collaboration with the University of Cambridge, the Crop Science Centre, NIAB and leading UK universities.
The CTP programme for Sustainable Agricultural Innovation (CTP-SAI) will ensure young scientists are ‘business aware’, opening up opportunities for careers across industry. Running from 2022 to 2028, the CTP-SAI will create a pre-competitive network in which businesses can explore and co-design research and innovation programmes and will train 30 PhD students.
Ensuring the programme is inclusive and recruits a diverse range of candidates into agriculture is a priority. The CTP-SAI aims to lead the sector by example, training the next generation of new thinkers, ready to act in the public and private sector to effect positive global change in the food and farming system. The programme is supported by leading UK and international agri-food businesses, research organisations and charitable organisations representing the collective needs of farmers and practitioners.
Dr Ingo Hein, senior research scientist at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee and Hutton coordinator of the CTP, said: “This BBSRC funded CTP embraces the challenges associated with developing more sustainable agriculture and brings together global industrial partners with UK research institutes and universities to train the next generation of research scientists. Responding to the needs of industry, research and innovation will be at the heart of 30 PhD student projects that will develop system approaches towards more resilient crop production.”
Dr Richard Harrison, NIAB’s Director of Cambridge Crop Research and NIAB coordinator of the CTP, added: “Our CTP stretches across the food and farming crop supply chain, bringing together partners to address the joint challenges of reducing emissions, developing resilient farming systems and reversing biodiversity decline. Our vision is to train new thinkers for new times, providing outstanding training to address the challenges of creating and delivering sustainable agricultural systems.”
Emma Garfield, Head of Research Agronomy at G’s Growers Ltd, commented: “Businesses need access to postgraduates with skills in research and innovation in order to adapt to the enormous challenges that climate change, land use change and biodiversity loss pose. We also need to ensure that the supply chain products and processes pass the test of responsible, sustainable innovation that is core to each businesses value set and corporate social responsibilities.”
The CTP programme places science-led innovation at its heart to ensure field-based agriculture is equipped with tools to enable resilient, sustainable and economic crop production whilst meeting consumer demands. The programme will address both short-term bioscience research challenges to facilitate the delivery of solutions within the next decade as well as thinking longer-term about the wider systems changes that will be underpinned by the research that this cohort of students will undertake.
The CTP-SAI Consortium includes:
◦ Lead partner managing CTP-SAI: Gs Growers
◦ Full commercial partners: Sainsburys, PepsiCo, Syngenta, Solynta and James Hutton Ltd
◦ Farmer representative partners: PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation), CUPGRA (Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association) and TMAF (The Morley Agricultural Foundation)
◦ Academic partners: NIAB & University of Cambridge (Crop Science Centre), James Hutton Institute
◦ Associate partners: University of Nottingham, University of Warwick, University of Dundee, Harper Adams University, Cranfield University, University of Leicester and Newcastle University
◦ Training provider: MDS (Management Development Services)