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IGER and IFR: report from BBSRC Council Meeting, 18 April 2007

4 May 2007

At its meeting on 18 April, and as part of its ongoing review of institutes, BBSRC Council considered the future governance arrangements for the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) and a further review of the science at the Institute of Food Research (IFR).

IGER
At its February meeting, the Council had reported that it was minded to support the transfer of the Institute (other than the North Wyke research centre which is in Devon) to a new partnership with the University of Wales Aberystwyth (UWA).  

On 18 April, after considering proposals based on discussions between BBSRC, the Institute and the University of Wales Aberystwyth and the University of Wales Bangor, the Council confirmed its wish to transfer staff in Aberystwyth and associated BBSRC funding to the University of Wales Aberystwyth to form part of a new research centre for international scientific excellence and knowledge transfer related to land-based research, from April 2008.  The research activities of this new centre will take forward the current work at IGER Plas Gogerddan site in partnership with  UWA researchers on the site and at the University.  The plans include provision of some new laboratory facilities.  It is recognised that UWA and UWB already have a strong research partnership and that a second phase would involve the formation of an institute for sustainable land use between these organisations. 

The Council accepted the broad scope of the science strategy for the new organisation, but has asked BBSRC and the University to develop this further.  This will be assisted by establishing a Scientific Advisory Board to provide strategic guidance to the organisation’s research and knowledge transfer activities.

IFR
The Council considered the report from a review panel, chaired by Professor Quintin McKellar, which assessed IFR’s progress in implementing its science strategy and increasing the quality of its science following the Institute Assessment Exercise in 2005, and made recommendations about future governance.

In noting the greater focus and progress under way at IFR, BBSRC Council is minded to embed research at the institute more closely with research within the university sector to create a new centre based around diet and health research. It has asked the Director of IFR to explore possible arrangements with potential university partners. The Council is looking for a mutually beneficial partnership based on scientific synergy, and to secure the long term sustainability of the Institute’s research within a focused diet and health research centre that aligns food science with complementary expertise in medical and clinical aspects. The Council will receive a report of progress, and will consider IFR governance further at its meeting in July 2007.  Any new arrangements will be subject to satisfactory development with a university partner of joint plans for science, management and investment.

Previously announced BBSRC funding commitments to the Institutes until 2011 are not affected by these proposed changes in governance.

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