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A student analysing a potato

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has revamped its studentship programme to focus on delivering new science with practical benefits for the industry.

The levy board launched the £1.5 million programme this week and opened its call for new research projects to start in 2014.

The applications process has been harmonised and brings together the three-to-four-year programmes previously run independently by the levy board’s six divisions which include the Potato Council and Horticulture Development Company.

The new-look programme aims to deliver more value from its postgraduate studentships in terms of backing useable scientific developments that are relevant to industry priorities. The new focus is also very firmly fixed on the challenge to develop the next generation of technical experts for the agriculture and horticulture industries.

Kim Matthews, chair of the joint studentship programme, said: “We are taking a more strategic approach to the type of studentships we support, now managing them under one cross-sector, co-ordinated programme that is closely integrated into our broader R&D objectives.

“We’re looking to attract high-quality people and high-quality projects and so secure a degree of excellence that will prove a definite asset to the future of UK agriculture and horticulture.”

This call for new projects, open to all research institutions, will close on 2 August with successful projects announced in the autumn. Historically funding a total of 15-20 new projects per year, and around 50-60 at any one time, AHDB is looking to maintain the same scale of projects and level of investment as in previous years.