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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

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Cambridge Centre for Crop Science

A coalition of international expertise - based in Cambridge, dedicated to feeding the world


Increasing prosperity, changing lifestyles and urbanisation are placing huge demands on global agriculture. A major approach to feeding the world’s growing population is to increase our crop yields in a sustainable way. This will rely on making significant progress in the fundamental science of plants, microbes and soils, and translating them into applied agricultural solutions. 


The Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS) will draw together a coalition of international expertise in plant sciences in Cambridge with a focus on real-world impact. Serving as a global hub for crop science, it will translate the University of Cambridge’s strong fundamental plant research into new, sustainable approaches for farmers, processors, and consumers. This involves:

  • A world-leading programme of research, international exchange and collaboration, led by a new Professor of Crop Science. Strategic research areas will include fundamental science to underpin enhancement of crop yields; crop breeding; and agritech outreach and training courses.
  • Recruiting and training the best young researchers from around the world in interdisciplinary science, including in plant genetics, bioinformatics, computational modelling and statistics. This will equip them with the skills to tackle research into the development of a wide range of staple and orphan crops.
“We envisage that new 3CS crop technologies will enable higher crop yields and lower environmental impact for crop-based food production – as well as contributing to improved dietary health.”

Professor Sir David Baulcombe, Head of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and project lead for the University.


The Centre will involve researchers from the University’s Department of Plant Sciences and Sainsbury Laboratory, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), and other UK and international research institutes.

“The delivery of both public goods and economic growth is essential for today’s plant scientists, with the need to produce sufficient healthy nutritious food without harming the environment being at the top of the international agenda.” 

Dr Tina Barsby, CEO and Director of NIAB.


3CS is already establishing connections with major industry partners, which are vital to understanding how societal and industry requirements feed into research design and translation, as well as agricultural supply chain networks such as the Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association. The Centre will also allow for closer collaboration with other regional institutes including the John Innes Centre in Norwich, and Rothamsted Research

International partnerships will build on the existing University of Cambridge partnership with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) India, to support the training, development of skills and knowledge exchange for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in India and the UK. In addition, 3CS will capitalise on the MoU, signed in 2016, for a joint UK-India Collaboration in Crop Science involving Cambridge, NIAB, John Innes, Rothamsted Research, University of East Anglia, BBSRC, and DBT India. 


In July 2017, £16.9 million was awarded from the HEFCE-managed UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and a further £14.5 million from the NIAB trust. This will enable construction of a state-of-the-art research laboratory at NIAB’s Cambridge site to house the new Centre. It will also provide new field stations and offices at NIAB’s Histon site, as well as new glasshouses with full environmental controls.


3CS in pictures

NIAB logo 


Global food security is a major research priority for UK and international science.

Cambridge Global Food Security is a virtual centre at the University of Cambridge. We promote an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the challenge of ensuring all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life. 

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Upcoming events

Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800

Dec 17, 2019

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB

Upcoming events