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New centre brings together all the country's universities in a research community on the food of the future

All eight universities in Denmark have joined forces on a new research centre that will create interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in Denmark and international partners. The new centre START - Centre for SusTainable AgRifood sysTems - will play a key role in the development of future solutions for green transition within agricultural and food systems.

In the future, Danish universities will have a crucial role in creating solutions for a more sustainable development within agricultural and food systems. A new research centre START - Centre for Sustainable Agrifood Systems - will play a key role in the development of solutions and strategies for green transition in the food area. This is according to Christine Nellemann from DTU. She is the chairman of the steering committee behind START which all eight universities in Denmark are jointly launching:

"It is quite unique that all Danish universities have joined forces to form a strong common front at an interdisciplinary level. The agenda in agriculture and food of the future is a very high priority for Danish research and the challenges that our world faces require action to create a more sustainable development, especially in the agricultural and food systems", Christine Nellemann emphasizes.

The START Secretariat is based at Aarhus University which is headed by a steering committee with representatives from all the founding universities. The chairmanship of the steering committee behind START will alternate every six months between the eight universities, which are the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Aarhus University (AU), the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU), Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Aalborg University (AAU), the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and Roskilde University (RUC).

Research community with an international perspective

The mission of START is that universities across the board can create crucial solutions for the future by sharing expertise and both nationally and internationally create more impact even faster.  This is what Eskild Holm Nielsen, Dean of the Faculty of Technical Sciences at Aarhus University, says:

"By further strengthening the interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers from a diversity of disciplines, we make it possible to create realistic future solutions together – both nationally and globally. In collaboration with the business community, politicians and international partners, the research collaboration in START will create a strong foundation for mission-driven innovation activities, so that we can create a decisive effect on our climate and environment and ensure long-term solutions in the food area. The goal is for Denmark to be a European living lab that can showcase the planned transition of European food systems," says the dean.

The START Centre will carry out activities that will strengthen interdisciplinary research collaboration in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

START was officially launched at a "Kick-off" seminar on March 21, 2022, with all eight universities participating.

 

START's national ambitions and targets for sustainability in food systems in Denmark in accordance with agreed international goals and objectives (UN Sustainable Development Goals and EU-Green Agreement with "Farm-to-fork" strategy):

    • Climate: 70% reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
    • Nutrients: Reducing nutrient losses to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and the National Emission Ceilings Directive.
    • "Farm-to-fork" strategy: goals for food security, nutrition, circularity, etc.
    • Pesticides: Reduce the use of pesticides by at least 50% and avoid use that could harm water resources and biodiversity.
    • Biodiversity: Contribute to transforming 30% of Europe's land into protected areas and increase biodiversity and pollinators in the agricultural landscape.
    • Food: Increase production to deliver 45% more healthy food by 2050
    • Energy and materials: Contribute to meeting the need to replace fossil carbon sources with energy and materials.