Ireland’s food processing industry is set for a revolutionary transformation as a result of the €2.776M *CirCoVal project, led by Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) researchers Dr Patrick Murray and Dr Lena Madden.
Building on groundwork laid by researchers in Meat Technology Ireland, the project aims to develop under-utilised products in red meat production and thereby create circular processes, add value and promote sustainability throughout the Irish agri-food sector.
This strategic initiative, tailored specifically for Irish primary producers, secured the substantial funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and aims to deliver unparalleled sustainability practices for the country’s meat and horticulture sectors.
Launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, and Minister of State with special responsibility for research and development, Martin Heydon TD, CirCoVal is positioned as a pivotal player in reshaping the Irish meat and horticulture processing landscape.
Dr Murray, Head of Research and Technology Transfer at TUS and project co-lead said, “This evidence-based project will demonstrate the capacity to transform, scale, and progress meat processing and associated technologies from lower to higher technology readiness levels. It aims to facilitate Irish primary meat producers and processing industries to transition through circularity and sustainability models, addressing sustainability challenges and contributing to our Climate Action Plan.”
Shannon ABC Senior Business Development Scientist and CirCoVal Co-Lead, Dr Lena Madden added “By strategically aligning with regional policy, CirCoVal through collaboration with industry partners, aims to build national capacity and contribute to a sustainable economy. These circular facilities not only generate employment but also position Ireland as a bio-economy leader, attracting regional, national and foreign direct investment. The project will also foster spin-off activities, enhancing infrastructure, and improving the quality of life in the regional community, recognising growth potential in key sectors like agri-food and information and communications technology.”
According to Dr Liam Brown, Vice President of Research, Development and Innovation at TUS, “Not only is this project so important to the circular bio-economy and sustainability agendas, it is also a key demonstrator of how TUS partners with leading industry players in the agri-food sector including Meat Technology Ireland and all of its member companies. This is aligned to our RDI objective of increasing knowledge transfer, supporting increased innovation diffusion and strengthening innovation ecosystems regionally, nationally and internationally.”
The CirCoVal project represents a significant stride towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced circular future for Ireland’s agri-food processing industry, showcasing the impact of strategic collaboration and innovative research. Key features of the project include digital controls which focus on the processed outputs which will enhance precision and efficiency in meat processing operations. In addition to horticulture integration, which allows resulting products to be utilised throughout the sector, fostering cross-industry collaboration and sustainability.
The collaborative process of the project includes a strong working partnership with Meat Technology Ireland, Teagasc, University College Dublin, and the Tyndall Institute. CirCoVal distinguishes itself as a pilot project and the only project directly engaged with Irish *industries. TUS, as the leading university, is the sole technological university to receive funding under this strategic call.