The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, today launched the new VistaMilk SFI Research Centre which is jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and his Department.

The VistaMilk Centre will be hosted by Teagasc Moorepark, in partnership with a number of research performing organisations. Multinational and SME companies in the food and ICT sectors are also part of the consortium.

At the launch of the Centre in Moorepark, Fermoy today, the Minister said “VistaMilk will be the largest Agri-Tech Centre covering the entire dairy production chain, with Exchequer funding of €26 million provided by SFI and my Department, together with industry funding of €14 million. This highlights the strong and collaborative commitment to building research and innovation capability that ensures the sustainability of the agri-food sector”.

VistaMilk will assist the Irish dairy industry to be a world leader in fundamental and translational research for precision pasture-based dairying, with the outcomes impacting positively on the environment, animal well-being and the health of consumers.

The investment is in line with the Food Wise 2025 strategy and will help to address key issues facing the dairy sector, including establishing the health and nutrition benefits of dairy products, increasing carbon efficiency, and increasing innovation as a response to the  uncertainties arising  from Brexit.

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.”

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.”