N8 AgriFood

Food security is one of the great challenges in our increasingly urbanised and globalised world

Professor Chris Day

Chair, N8 Board

The range of projects that have been proposed by the N8 show the breadth of expertise they have to address this challenge

Andy Cureton

Head of Business Interaction, BBSRC

This is an important collaborative project involving a strong partnership of universities with relevant and complementary expertise

David Sweeney

Executive Chair, Research England

N8 can now implement an integrated, large scale multi-disciplinary research programme which will make a major, long-term impact in addressing the challenge of food security

Professor Chris Day

Chair, N8 Board

N8 AgriFood was a key initiative under the N8 Research Partnership. The programme ran between 2015-2021 and was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the N8 universities. It was a world-leading research and innovation cluster tackling the global challenges of sustainable food production, resilient supply chains and improving nutrition and public health.

Its purpose was to harness the collective expertise within the 8 institutions and combine it with collaboration across the sector including industry, government, small to medium businesses, non-governmental organisations and charities. Taking this approach provided the skills and expertise required to tackle the complex challenges facing our food system.

This approach enabled N8 AgriFood to:

  • Create sustainable and influential partnerships across the global agrifood community
  • Influence change in agrifood and environmental policy and practice both in the UK and globally
  • Contribute to a more sustainable food system, as well as improve food security and sustain natural resources

N8 AgriFood met and in most cases exceeded its original success criteria. The programme created a successful platform for collaboration, leading to a transformation in the research culture among individuals and disciplines in the N8 universities, leaving a legacy of future research and collaboration.

Key achievements:

  • Pump priming over 170 projects exploring food security locally, nationally, and internationally and with collaborators from industry in the UK and globally. These resulted in a wealth of new activity and knowledge exchange, including 23 new external funding awards and 9 collaborative PhD studentships
  • Hosting a significant portfolio of networking and knowledge exchange events across the N8 universities to enhance collaboration and co-production
  • Development of relationships in China, the US, and South America leading on global projects such as the Global Burden of Animal Disease programme
  • Supporting the future generation of food system thinkers, through food-systems training and skills for graduate students across the North of England and internationally
  • Promoting the development and exchange of independent research evidence and thought leadership to inform policy at local national and international levels though the N8 AgriFood Policy Hub.
  • Attracting an additional total of over £40 million of external funding for agrifood projects and underpinning subsequent major grants such as FixOurFood and the Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Health People programmes, who are leading the way in transforming the UK food system through Transforming the UK Food System for Healthy People and a Healthy Environment SPF Programme.