The Irish government is to spend EUR8.8m (US$10.4m) on a new National Food Innovation Hub, intended to help the country’s food businesses deal with the fallout of Brexit, the UK’s departure from the European Union.
The funding for the project in Cork will be via the country’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The hub will be located at the Teagasc Moorepark Campus in Fermoy in southern Ireland.
It is intended the hub will create a business innovation network involving dairy businesses, incubator companies and public-private partnership-based R&D programmes with a research focus on food processing, quality and nutrition.
It involves constructing up to 12 customer application suites containing office and laboratory space, so each company can have an on-campus presence to conduct new-product development. Moorepark Technology Limited (MTL), a joint venture established by the state-backed agri-food R&D body Teagasc with shareholders from the Irish dairy industry, will also be involved.
The hub will be directly linked to both the Teagasc Food Research Centre and MTL to allow for close collaboration between the research centres and the companies located on the Moorepark campus.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Small and medium-sized agri-food businesses are already preparing for Brexit by taking an innovative approach and opening up new European and international markets outside of the UK.
“This new National Food Innovation Hub will help Irish businesses to innovate and expand, keeping our agri-food sector competitive and attracting investment in a post-Brexit world.”
According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, the country exported EUR112.4bn worth of goods to the UK in 2015, including EUR1.9bn of meat and meat preparations and EUR0.8bn of dairy products and birds’ eggs.
Trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland also remains an area of concern with the nature of the border between the two countries post-Brexit one of the main planks of the current separation negotiations between the UK and the EU.