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Agriculture Minister opens £800,000 research fund

26 October, 2011 - by Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has reopened the DARD Research Challenge Fund.

This is the second opportunity for small and medium sized businesses from the primary production sector to get help with research. This tranche of the Fund is worth £800,000 and is, managed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). It aims to encourage industry-led consortia to get involved in research projects, by providing grant of up to 50% assistance with research funding.

Launching the Fund, Minister O’Neill said: “The agri-food sector has showed remarkable buoyancy throughout the economic downturn and will be at the forefront of Executive initiatives to create economic growth in the next few years. But on the back of this economic resilience agri-food and rural small businesses cannot just sit back – they need to innovate to meet the fresh challenges both local and global that are arising every day.

“Investing in research is central to innovation but many, especially smaller businesses, find this very daunting. The Challenge Fund will help these businesses embrace R&D as a means of improving their competitiveness and sustainability. This second tranche of awards is worth £800,000 to the industry and offers a further opportunity for stakeholders to innovate and maximise growth potential of local businesses.”

She added: “In 2010 the Fund awarded approximately £500,000 to four projects drawn from across the dairy, beef and pig industries. We hope that once again rural businesses will rise to the challenge and take this opportunity to use and benefit from the knowledge and expertise of public research establishments.”

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