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About BEAA

The Biosciences, Environment and Agriculture Alliance (BEAA) founded in 2007 is a strategic partnership between Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities. The merging of the former BBSRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) with Aberystwyth University’s Biological and Rural Sciences Departments to form the Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), together with Bangor University’s College of Natural Sciences (CNS), creates the largest multi-disciplinary Agri-Food environment grouping in the UK . The Alliance builds on the success of two joint HEFCW-funded environmental research centres: the Centre for Integrated Research in the Rural Environment (CIRRE) and the Centre for Catchment and Coastal Research (CCCR), representing £5.5M in staff and infrastructural investment (2006-2012). Initial funding for BEAA was provided by Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities, BBSRC and HEFCW (£55M) allowing significant investment in infrastructure, equipment and people, on which we continue to build.

Since the establishment of BEAA, we have:


Enhanced collaboration between CNS and IBERS (as evidenced by some £16M of income), and with external partners


Increased the volume of publications by 8% over the period, doubled the number of joint publications between AU and BU year-on-year. Increased the proportion of our papers that are published in elite journals (CIRRE’s publications had field-weighted citation indices for 2007-2011 that were 97% above the world average)


Increased the integration of genomics and genetics into on-going plant, animal and microbial research programmes and increased the number of our genomics-based publications


Strengthened our provision in informatics
E. Developed strategic relationships with key stakeholders to ensure the translation of our research into practice

Current and future strategic goals

BEAA has provided an exceptional opportunity to develop the staff base and research infrastructure to make us internationally competitive in all aspects of non-arable sustainable land-use, catchment research, and knowledge exchange. Our aim has been to provide a strong collaborative and multidisciplinary base for this research so that it can make a major contribution to the effective management of an increasing range of conflicting demands on a finite and threatened resource. We have built on the strengths and experience of academics at both universities. We control a network of experimental land, freshwater and marine facilities and expertise, providing a substantial advance in the capacity and multidisciplinarity needed to provide answers to the major biological and environmental questions underpinning future sustainable use of land and sea resources. BEAA was established to:

  • Develop in Wales a world-class, science-led, research, training, education and enterprise cluster for the 21st century Grand Challenges: living with climate change, renewable energy, global food security, and threats such as animal and plant diseases.

  • Build on the technical advances in genetics, phenotyping, epigenetics, molecular biology, ecology, conservation, quantitative biology and high-throughput analytical methodology to research key biological, land- and water-use systems. Emphasis is placed on pastoral agriculture, uplands, catchments and coasts. By doing so, to position BEAA as the R&D hub that underpins the next phase of growth in the agriculture, food, fisheries, and bio-renewable and land-based industries.

  • Empower BEAA scientists to drive forward major advances in the economic and social impact of research.

To achieve these aims we have and continue to:

  • Build on our reputation and expertise in public-good plant breeding (through staff appointments and investment in facilities) to create national capability to address global challenges in food security, climate change and renewable energy.

  • Build on our reputation and expertise in rumen microbiology and animal science to establish international leadership in the science underpinning our understanding of greenhouse gas emissions from ruminants.

  • Design domestication programmes for Miscanthus that build on our world-leading genetic resources to create novel energy grass ideotypes.

  • Continue our current rapid progress of strengthening expertise in the land use-water quality interface (especially on macronutrient cycles in collaboration with the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) to establish UK-leading capability in rural catchment management.

  • Consolidate our inter-disciplinary capability for tackling the interaction of agriculture, the environment and human health, based on our fundamental science of carbon, nitrogen and pathogen cycling, with an expansion of life cycle assessment to evaluate socio-economic and welfare, as well as environmental, sustainability through the whole production chain.

Organizationally we have ensured that we:

  • Maintained the capacity to take the outputs of mechanistic studies on model plant-animal-microbe systems through enabling, strategic and applied research on to direct commercial and social application.

  • Sustained the health of the agri-environment science area by nurturing the development of the next generation of creative and technically-equipped researchers to carry out high quality rural science.

  • Increased and strengthened our effort in bioinformatics through new appointments and coordinated collaborations.

  • Developed an effective programme of knowledge exchange and commercialization delivered through partnerships with commercial, regional development agencies and other agency, governmental, charitable and international (e.g. CGIAR) organisations.

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