A new centre to improve and future-proof the UK agrifood industry was officially launched this week at Queen’s University Belfast.
The Centre for Excellence in Agriculture and Food Integrity will develop innovative scientific-measurement solutions and digital technologies to help make supply chains more sustainable, reliable, safe, and productive, says the university.
The space will also be used for teaching and training current and future UK food industry leaders.
Queen’s University Belfast and the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC Group have partnered to create the centre which will be based at the ASSET Technology Centre on the Queen’s campus.
Sir Peter Kendall, former President of the National Farmers’ Union (for England and Wales) who led the recent Independent Strategic Review of the Northern Ireland Agrifood Sector – said at the launch: “This partnership brings together two key institutions in the area of food integrity in these islands. The new Centre will ensure the most rigorous science and the latest digital technology and data are maximised, to catalyse a fit-for-purpose agrifood industry and healthier food systems for all.”
The ASSET Technology Centre is a space for measurement analysis for agrifood applications, says Queen’s, and has been used to uphold food authenticity in the UK and pick up fraudulent adulteration of food and feed products.
It was appointed as a ‘Collaborating Centre’ by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency in 2021 and was also listed as a ‘Centre of Expertise’ by the LGC DEFRA initiative, the Food Authenticity Network.
Professor Chris Elliott OBE, Professor of Food Safety at Queen’s University, founder of the ASSET Technology Centre and founder of Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security said: “This is a wonderful collaboration for Queen’s and is recognition for the level and quality of industry-focused research and innovation that the ASSET Technology Centre has delivered since its inception. We very much look forward to this new partnership with the NML at LGC.”
The National Measurement Laboratory‘s based at the LGC Group lab headquarters in Teddington, Middlesex, provides traceability for routine chemical and bio-measurement in the UK, working in areas such as food safety and security as well as advanced therapeutics and medicinal diagnostics.
“‘The NML at LGC and Queen’s University Belfast have strong and highly complementary research environments,” said Professor Julian Braybrook, Director of National Laboratories at LGC & UK Government Chemist. “By adopting a ‘One Health’ approach,the Centre will foster an interdisciplinary culture that facilitates innovation in scientific measurement and acceleration of impact to market through supported delivery of the UK Government’s Innovation, Net Zero and National Food Strategies.”
Queen’s University Belfast was recently ranked joint first with University of East Anglia for their research Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences in the 2021 edition of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), a UK-wide assassment of the quality of university research.