Run by NIAB EMR at East Malling in Kent, the new industry led six year training programme will run from October 2017 until September 2023.

A consortium-led by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd won the collaborative training partnership (CTP) award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The programme will tackle key industry challenges by providing 16 four year studentships in core research areas such as plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, soil science, plant physiology and crop agronomy. Students in the programme will be encouraged to develop and integrate their research with big agri busineses so they can put science into practice.

The PhD programme will produce a research portfolio designed to provide world class training and will address the strategic needs of the UK fruit industry. The partners who form the consortium span the supply chain, from primary production and marketing (Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Worldwide Fruit Ltd, M&W Mack Ltd, Univeg UK Ltd and the National Association of Cider Makers) to retail (Marks & Spencer plc), with AHDB providing knowledge exchange.
NIAB EMR, the perennial crop research institute, will partner the universities of Cambridge, Nottingham and Reading to provide research expertise and facilities.

Richard Harnden from Berry Gardens Growers, who is strategic lead for the CTP programme for fruit crop research, said: “This partnership will provide a world class horticultural and bioscience UK research training programme to address the scientific challenges faced by agri businesses, from crop production, food quality and supply, through to consumer preference and reducing waste in the supply chain.”

Dr Nicola Harrison from NIAB EMR, the CTP science coordinator, said: “The aim is to produce an innovative and exceptional postgraduate research training programme which will engage and train the next generation of scientists to do strategic research which helps secure the future of UK horticulture.”