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£1.5M investment supports postgraduate training in agri-food sector

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To continue meeting the advanced skills needs of the agri-tech food industry, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) recently delivered additional funding of £1.5M to support the union of three Advanced Training Partnerships to form a single enhanced Advanced Food Training Partnership (AFTP). The AFTP will cover the full agri-food chain and will help realise opportunities for new knowledge and technology to transform the agri-food industry.

Dr Karen Lewis, BBSRC Interim Executive Director, Innovation and Skills said: “The agri-tech sector is one of the UK’s largest industrial sectors, employing over half a million people, and delivering an estimated £13.6Bn (ref 1) in exports. The AFTP, advised by industry practitioners, will help exchange cutting-edge knowledge and skills from the higher education research base to industry.”

This further funding, available over the next five years, will support six core institutions comprising the AFTP: University of Reading, The University of Nottingham, Aberystwyth University, Harper Adam’s University, Cranfield University and Bangor University. Working in close association with Rothamsted Research, NIAB, Leatherhead Food Research and Cambden BRI and other affiliate partners, AFTP will build on existing work of the ATPs, providing skills training across the breadth of food production from farm to fork.

In May 2011, BBSRC awarded funding of £13M for three major new training programmes ATPs for industry specialists working in vital niche areas within the agri-food sector. The ATPs were developed in response to domestic and global pressures on food production systems, recognising that investment in high-level skills training will support the UK agri-food sector to respond resiliently to food security challenges.

Funded from 2011 to 2016, the ATPs operated under the leadership of an academic institution and focused postgraduate level training to employees working in UK agri-food industries on a particular research area, covering the full range of food production from farm to fork. Following on from the success of the ATPs, BBSRC is providing further funding to contribute to addressing the needs for high level agricultural skills identified by the Agri-Tech Leadership Council.

“The AFTP will help ensure this sector continues to grow and contribute to UK productivity and the industrial strategy,” emphasised Dr Lewis.



  1. BIS research paper number 284: Agri-Tech Industrial Strategy: Evaluation Scoping Study and Baseline (PDF)


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

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Tags: people skills and training food agriculture funding BBSRC press release