Times Higher Education Awards shortlist

09 September 2013

Aberystwyth University has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology category of the Times Higher Education Awards 2013.

Aberystwyth is one of six universities shortlisted for the award. The full listings for the Awards have been published in the Times Higher Education (THE) today, Thursday 5 September, and are available online here.

Aberystwyth University’s entry focuses on the breeding and development of High Sugar Grasses (AberHSG) by scientists at IBERS – Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences.

Now in their ninth year, the Times Higher Education Awards are a highlight of the academic calendar and a glittering celebration of the best of the sector.

The awards represent a unique and high-profile opportunity to celebrate the excellence and amazing achievements of UK higher education institutions, and the two core pursuits of higher education: teaching and research.

Professor April McMahon, Vice-Chancellor, said; “We are delighted to have reached the shortlist for these most prestigious awards, especially in an area showcasing the world-renowned expertise of IBERS. This is very timely, coming soon after the announcement of our 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 creation of the High Sugar Grasses at Aberystwyth University provides an 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.”

High Sugar Grasses (AberHSG) have the potential to transform pastoral based livestock agriculture. Independent tests have demonstrated that AberHSG can increase the production of meat and milk by up to 24% and reduce methane emissions and nitrogenous pollutants by up to 20%.

The retailers, ASDA and Sainsbury’s promote the use of Aber HSGs on their farms, estimating a reduction of 186,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, whilst raising profit by more than £10m p.a. AberHSG varieties are marketed through a strategic public-private partnership with Germinal Holdings, Great Britain and Ireland’s largest forage seed company.

The Aber HSG varieties of perennial ryegrass also provide a source of sugar for conversion into bioethanol, providing an opportunity to develop a crop derived liquid transport fuel and reduce our dependency on fossil fuel.

The awards dinner and ceremony will take place on Thursday 28 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. It promises to be a spectacular event with over 1000 guests expected to attend, including government ministers and academic and university staff of every level from across the sector.