This proposal responds to an urgent need to increase agricultural production by improving monitoring and control of animal diseases. This will be achieved through development of a new tool for capturing biting midges: vectors of Bluetongue and Schmallenberg disease which threaten food production across Europe. The key deliverable will be a lure that uses odours isolated from manure and urine to attract midges to a non-powered trap. This represents a major advance from the state of the art, as there is currently no suitable tool for sustainable, wide-spread monitoring of biting midges. The project is an international collaboration between a highly-talented researcher (Dr Daniel Bray, Keele University, UK) and a world-class scientist (Prof. Rickard Ignell, SLU, Sweden), which will draw on the expertise of an SME to determine how this innovation can be marketed to achieve maximum benefit across Europe.
Through training and research, the project will: (a) advance the fellow’s skills in entomology through engagement with an interdisciplinary project team (b) improve the fellow’s capacity to lead research projects targeting insect disease vectors (c) produce a cost-effective trap for sustainable monitoring of biting midges (d) foster collaboration between academia and industry through translational research (e) allow the fellow to carry out a placement in industry, to understand how to work in this sector and gain entrepreneurial skills and (f) implement outreach activities which will disseminate our results to those that need them.
Greater interaction with SMEs and meeting the societal challenge of sustainable food production are key aims of the Europe 2020 programme addressed by this proposal. The training and networking opportunities will advance the researcher towards his career goal of obtaining an independent position in integrated pest management, and enhance the capacity of the ERA to conduct world-leading agricultural and entomological research.
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