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Agri-tech company B-hive Innovations will host a Future Leaders Fellowship and lead a research project, which will early detect potato diseases and defects before they hit supermarket shelves.

Awarded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), research scientist Dr Barbara dos Santos Correia has been successful in her application for a Future Leaders Fellowship and will receive nearly £675,000 to support her TuberSense project – a four-year research programme that aims to detect diseases and defects in potato crops, using volatile biomarkers and innovative gas sensors to reduce food waste across the supply chain.

The project will help to establish a framework for crop disease prevention and precision detection from farm to fork by developing new gas sensors that will have a high impact of reducing crop waste and increasing food safety.

Barbara said: “I am delighted to have secured this UKRI funding with B-hive’s support. This funding will support our latest research project, which can transform the agri-food industry.

“We’re incredibly eager to commence our research activities with our project partners – Branston Limited, UWE Bristol, Warwick University and the James Hutton Institute. Our TuberSense project will help to identify emerging climate-driven and disruptive diseases that affect potato farming and storage across the UK and create innovative decision support tools based on volatile sensing.”

The Future Leaders Fellowship is a highly competitive and flexible scheme that supports ambitious and challenging research and innovation and provides training and career development, to maximise the leadership potential of talented early career researchers.

UKRI chief executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme.

“The new Fellows announced today will have the support and freedom they need to pursue their research and innovation ideas, delivering new knowledge and understanding and tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Vidyanath (Vee) Gururajan, managing director at B-hive Innovations, said: “It’s fantastic that Barbara has received this funding. Not only will it support her development as a research scientist, but projects such as TuberSense can be undertaken to help transform the agriculture industry.

“We’d like to say thank you to UKRI, for providing us with this opportunity, and to our partners who will be working alongside our team during this transformational project. We look forward to research getting underway and the results it will bring.”

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