A successful AFBI will bring immeasurable benefits to the North's local agri-food industry and underpin its sustainable development, according to the North's new Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIlveen.

Speaking at the Open Meeting at Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough she said that given the challenges facing the agriculture industry, the importance of research and innovation have never been greater.

"Much has changed over the last ten years but one constant has been the importance of innovation, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and delivering improved outcomes.

"This has been AFBI’s core purpose since its inception, to provide the research based evidence that is vital for good policy making and for driving the technological advances that will underpin the future competitiveness of our agri-food industry."

Minister McIlveen said that the North needs to continue to invest in the generation of new ideas and ensure that there is an uninterrupted flow of knowledge and innovation from the research institute to the farmyard.

I’m immensely excited about the potential that exists within AFBI to build an ever greater presence and reputation within national, European and global science communities.

"A successful AFBI will bring immeasurable benefits to our local agri-food industry and underpin its sustainable development," she said.

Minister McIlveen recognised the service made to the institute by Professor Seamus Kennedy who retired as Chief Executive last week.

"I want to thank Seamus for his sterling efforts in guiding AFBI to this point and wish him well in his retirement.

"I welcome Professor Elaine Watson to her new role as AFBI CEO and very much look forward to working with Elaine as she leads AFBI forward into its second decade and towards even greater success."