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Ulster University is one of six organisations working on a major research initiative to diversify plant protein production across the island of Ireland.

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Protein-I will take a food systems approach to help create more sustainable protein sources that will support a growing population and the development of Ireland’s rural bio-economy.

The five-year project, led by University College Dublin (UCD) Institute of Food and Health, aims to diversify plant protein intake, model the impact among the population, create a smart supply chain solution, and perform human interventions to demonstrate efficacy to achieve adequate nutrition and improve health.

The initiative will unite expertise and cutting-edge research from six research organisations: Ulster University, University College Dublin, Teagasc, University College Cork, Queen's University Belfast and the National University of Ireland Galway - and 17 principal investigators.

Ulster University Business School Senior Lecturer, Dr Trevor Cadden, is the project lead within Ulster for Protein-I;

“As an institution that is committed to making a positive contribution towards the global sustainability and climate change agenda, we are delighted to partner on this important initiative, which makes a profound contribution in progressing the food sustainability agenda.

The sustainability of our food system is a major challenge and becoming more critical as a result of population growth and climate change. Along with colleagues from the Ulster University School of Computing, this project will see Ulster University focus their research efforts to co-create a technological solution, tailored to the needs of the agri-food industry, that can be used throughout the supply chain to increase supply chain efficiency, food safety and reduce environmental degradation."

Professor Lorraine Brennan, from the School of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD said;

"Protein-I will enable us to combine leading expertise to maximise benefits across the food system. Our project will be a key step towards future-proofing our food system on the island of Ireland in a way that helps protect our health and that of the planet."

The multidisciplinary team from Ulster is made up of Dr Trevor Cadden, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management, Professor Ronan Mc Ivor, Professor of Operations Management, Thomas Cowderoy, Research Associate (Ulster University Business School) and Dr Joseph Rafferty, Lecturer in Data Science (Ulster University School of Computing).

The project will run from 2022-2027.