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VistaMilk €40 million SFI Research Centre launches today in Teagasc

VistaMilk, a new SFI Research Centre, was launched in Teagasc Moorepark, at Fermoy, Co Cork, today.

The VistaMilk SFI Research Centre, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), represents a unique collaboration between Agri-Food, ICT research institutes and leading Irish / multinational food and ICT companies.

The centre is hosted by Teagasc, in partnership with the Cork based Tyndall National Institute, a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems, the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), and the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics (at UCD, NUIG, DCU & UCC).

Launching VistaMilk, Minister Michael Creed said; “This €40 million centre will, for the first time, link the Irish Agri-Food industry with Ireland’s leading technology research institutes in a large-scale innovation ecosystem. I am confident that the opportunities that will arise from the interactions between Agri-Food and ICT will help to maintain and build the competitive advantage of the Irish dairy sector.”

Welcoming the launch of the new SFI Research Centre VistaMilk, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: ‘Agriculture and dairy production are crucial to our economy in Ireland. Globally, these sectors are transforming rapidly, and it is crucial that Ireland occupies a leading position within them. Alongside the other SFI Research Centres funded by the Irish Government, VistaMilk will help to improve our country’s competitive edge and excellent innovation, enabling us to continue to attract and retain new investment and deliver effective and wide-ranging research outcomes.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland, said: ‘We are delighted to officially launch VistaMilk, which will join an existing network of world-leading SFI Research Centres that focus on excellent science, as well as economic and societal impact to Ireland. VistaMilk will be an agent of growth for the Irish dairy industry by being a world leader in fundamental and translational research for precision pasture-based dairying.”

Speaking to stakeholders including the industry representatives at the launch, Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director said; “research and innovation are the drivers of progress and VistaMilk encapsulates both. This centre will have the capacity to enhance sustainability across the dairy supply chain, positively impacting the environment, animal well-being and the health of consumers. It will address the challenges right along the supply chain, from the soil through to the human gut.”

Director of VistaMilk, Professor Donagh Berry said; ”To advance the state-of-the-art in Agri-Food and information sciences, VistaMilk has divided the problem domain into three main thematic areas; Soil and Pasture; Cow, and Food. Combined, these three areas cover the entire supply chain from soil to society. Within each of these thematic areas, VistaMilk has several targeted projects each of which will leverage the combined expertise of the VistaMilk partners. Each targeted project involves at least one industry partner, who represent the sectors dealing with grass-seed breeding, animal and human nutrition, animal health, animal breeding, dairy-food processing, data analytics, sensor development, communications and networks, and omics technologies.”

The research programme in the VistaMilk SFI Research Centre will particularly address:

• Soil & Pasture: Knowledge and tools to sustainably grow a greater quantity of consistently higher quality herbage for consumption by grazing cows.
• Cow: Achieving a greater volume of consistently higher quality milk through scientifically-supported optimised management and breeding strategies.
• Food: Develop higher value-added dairy products for human consumption, optimised for the predicted milk supply and quality based on predicted grass growth profiles and cow performance from earlier Targeted Projects.

In addressing these areas, the centre will combine biological sciences with cutting edge information communications technology areas:

• Sensors: The development of robust highly sensitive sensor infrastructure based on (i) nano-electrochemical, (ii) spectroscopic and/or (iii) mechanical sensors integrated with control electronics, firmware, edge computing data analytics and data communications.
• Communications & Networks: The development of efficient and reliable end-to-end communication protocols for transporting information from various sensors all the way to the fog and cloud computing infrastructure.
• Data & Data Analytics: The development and application of machine learning and statistical modelling techniques, across the dairy supply chain, to predict optimal outcomes for pasture, for cows, and eventually for food production.
• Decision Support: Develop and deploy modular-based decision-support resources informed by the multilevel data and associated analytics for use by producers in the pursuit of consistently better performance.

Ends.

About Science Foundation Ireland: Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and, in particular, to the growth of the economy. 

See http://www.sfi.ie/

Science Foundation Ireland has launched the #BelieveInScience campaign to promote the potential that science and discovery offer Ireland, today and in tomorrow’s world. The #BelieveInScience campaign will see Science Foundation Ireland work in partnership with the Irish research community to share a mutual passion for science with the public; to promote an understanding of the ability of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to create positive change in the world and to drive a sustainable economy in Ireland.

About Teagasc: Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority – is the national body providing integrated research, advisory and training services to the agriculture and food industry and rural communities.

About Tyndall: Tyndall National Institute is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems. Specialising in both electronics and photonics – materials, devices, circuits and systems – we are globally leading in our core research areas of:

• Smart sensors and systems
• Optical communication systems
• Mixed signal and analog circuit design
• Microelectronic and photonic integration
• Semiconductor wafer fabrication
• Nano materials and device processing

Central to our mission is delivering economic impact through research excellence. We work with industry and academia to transform research into products in our core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-food and the environment. We generate approximately €30m in income each year, with over 85% coming from competitively won contracts.

With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, we are focused on delivering real impact from our excellent research. Our ambitious 5-year strategic plan sets out a clear strategy to create employment and build critical mass within the Irish technology space.

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