Aberystwyth wins two Times Higher Education awards

THEABERYSTWYTH University has won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology in the 2013 Times Higher Education awards.

Aberystwyth University’s entry, which focused on the breeding and development of High Sugar Grasses (AberHSG) by scientists at IBERS, the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences, was up against the University of East Anglia, Loughborough University, Newcastle University, the University of Reading, and the University of Strathclyde for the prestigious award.

As part of the Welsh Crucible (a program for researchers at Welsh Universities), Aberystwyth also won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development. Cardiff received the award on behalf of all universities involved; Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities, and the University of South Wales.

Nominations were open until the 16th June 2012, with the shortlist announced on 5th September. The ceremony was held tonight (28th) at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

A panel of specially selected judges (chosen for their expertise in each field) created the shortlist after nominations were closed, and chose the higher education institutes which showed “outstanding examples of best practice” in the 2011-2012 academic year.

Commenting on the award win, Professor April McMahon, Aberystwyth University’s Vice-Chancellor, said; “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award, especially in an area showcasing the world-renowned expertise of IBERS.  We are particularly proud to be recognised as industry leaders, supporting our position as one of the top 40 UK research universities. We look forward to strengthening our research excellence further as we progress our exciting plans for the Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus, where science, innovation and technology will have an unprecedented opportunity to develop together.”

The University is unique within the UK Higher Education sector in possessing commercially successful plant breeding programmes that generate products in the form of new varieties that are marketed within the UK and overseas.

Professor Wayne Powell, Director of IBERS said; “The development of new plant varieties at Aberystwyth University requires a focus on teamwork and long term, mission driven research and the achievement of the team here today builds on the heritage of our predecessors in the Welsh Plant Breeding Station, and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.

The development of Aber High Sugar Grasses is an excellent example of how academic research expertise can work effectively in partnership with commercial enterprise to deliver economic impact, support climate change mitigation and a diversified farming industry that could contribute significantly to the social and economic regeneration of rural communities.”

Dr Athole Marshall, Head of the Public Good Plant Breeding Team at IBERS said; “The breeding of improved plant varieties is a delivery mechanism by which the results of basic and applied research at IBERS can be used by agriculture.  The development of AberHSG varieties is the product of the innovation and foresight of the grass breeding team at IBERS and its predecessors and demonstrates the value of the close collaboration between plant and animal scientists within the Institute”.