Driving innovations in food security will be top of the agenda this month at the next N8 Industry Innovation Forum event.
The Forum, taking place on October 7 and 8, will focus on 'achieving a sustainable food system' and brings together leading businesses with research intensive universities, and other key organisations and networks. Topics will include: smart farming methods; efficiency and yield; achieving resilient supply chains; and understanding choice and its impact on health nutrition.
The N8 Research Partnership has strong collective research strengths in the field of food security and will be represented at the forum by Pro-Vice Chancellors and leading academic experts from member institutions. They will be joined by 30 invited industry representatives and lead technologists from Innovate UK and research councils.
The Industry Innovation Forum is an initiative between the N8 Research Partnership, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Innovate UK, the new name for the Technology Strategy Board, to connect leading businesses with research intensive universities and other key organisations and networks involved in innovation.
October's Forum has been designed to support businesses in accelerating commercialisation and unlocking opportunities in the global food security sector and enable the sharing of current practice interests and ideas. It will help to match practical and technical industry challenges with the best expertise and research capabilities of the N8 and other universities, generating the opportunities for collaboration - potentially between partners from very different sectors.
The event will include a dinner on October 7 at the York Hilton hotel and a workshop with facilitated group sessions on October 8 at The Food and Environment Research Agency in York.
It follows three highly successful N8 Industry Innovation Forums, which have taken place since 2012; to date, these have focused on Advanced Materials, Active and Healthy Ageing and Industrial Biotechnology and have generated a significant pipeline of collaborative research ideas – many of which are now coming to fruition.
Colin Reid, director of the N8 Industry Innovation Forum, said: "Food security is one of the greatest challenges in our increasingly globalised and urbanised world and the need to ensure food production and distribution is sustainable and resilient is an urgent – and crucial – task faced by governments, business and society at large.
"By focusing in on 'achieving a sustainable food system' the forthcoming Industry Innovation Forum event will help to address these challenges, and brings the N8's collective expertise in food security to bear in potential future collaborations with commercial businesses and industry bodies.
"Exciting, new step-changing innovations can spring from these partnerships and we hope October's event will foster an active community of collaborators in the field of food security and technology."
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, the new name for the Technology Strategy Board, said: "Helping businesses to deliver technological solutions to address the global challenges of sustainable food production caused by the impacts of a rising population, the rapid development of emerging economies and shortages of land, water and energy are key parts of Innovate UK's extensive programme of activity to support innovation in the UK's agriculture and food sector.
"We are therefore delighted to support the N8 Industry Innovation Forum's initiative. By supporting business-lead innovation and translating new research and technology from some of our leading universities into commercially-viable products and services, it is an exemplar model for driving innovation and growth in the economy."
Together, the N8 Universities have an impressive track record in food science and technology, with more than 370 researchers working on projects in this area and a portfolio of £269 million of research funding over the last six years.