Food for Health Ireland receives €21.6m funding boost

27 Nov 2019

Image: © bit24/

With €21.6m in new funding, Food for Health Ireland aims to meet the growing consumer demand for health-enhancing ingredients.

Today (27 November), an Irish research centre that aims to improve global health through innovation in functional food announced that it will receive a €21.6m funding boost.

Food for Health Ireland, which is based in University College Dublin (UCD), has secured €7.2m in funding over five years from Enterprise Ireland. This funding will be matched by €7.2m from Irish industry partners and another €7.2m from competitive sources.

The aim of the centre’s research is to make Ireland a global leader in the €250bn market for functional food, and to meet growing consumer demands for health-enhancing ingredients, which are increasingly desired in food rather than pills or supplements.

Food for Health Ireland has spent more than a decade building an innovation ecosystem that aims to bring together leaders in food and health research, industry, policy, marketing and investment, with a particular focus on the dairy industry. Its core industry members include names such as Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia and Kerry Group.

Dr Nessa Noronha, director of Food for Health Ireland, said that it has developed a “world-class model for collaboration”, which it is now expanding to include start-ups, SMEs and other international players in the food and drink sector.

Three women stand on a staircase holding a sign that reads 'Food for Health Ireland'.

From left: Dr Nessa Noronha of Food for Health Ireland, Minister Heather Humphreys, and Alexa Toomey of Enterprise Ireland. Image: Iain White, Fennell Photography

‘Ingenuity and innovation’

“The great success of the Irish food sector in recent decades can be attributed to a number of factors, but chief among them is the ingenuity and innovative capacity of Irish food companies,” said Alexa Toomey, manager of dairy, beverages and FDI at Enterprise Ireland.

“We are delighted to support the continued work of Food for Health Ireland, with a renewed focus on expanding the network and commercialising its research outputs. Through programmes like this we can ensure that Ireland is recognised as a global leader in functional food innovation.”

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, added that the Government “recognises the importance of innovation” for the agri-food sector. “Enterprise Ireland’s continued support of Food for Health Ireland, through investment in research and innovation capability, will help to build competitive advantage in the food sector,” she said.

While the centre is based in UCD, Food for Health Ireland works with researchers from other Irish universities, including Dublin City University, University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, as well as Teagasc.

Updated, 2.20pm, 27 November 2019: This article was updated to clarify that Food for Health Ireland will be receiving fresh funding, not opening a new centre, and to include comments from today’s event.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic