Research Community

START is a united action of all Danish universities for supporting the green transition of Agrifood Systems. We focus on cooperative strategic research in an integrative, inclusive and interdisciplinary approach.

The initiative has been launched with a Kick-off Seminar at Sandbjerg Estate on 21-22 March 2022, setting the agenda in a European perspective with the participation from the EC DG Research, Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

An interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international endeavour

The unique assets of the START research community is the comprises of multi-disciplines from natural, technical, and digital sciences to social and humanities sciences and arts.

START focuses on exploration of pathways for systemic transition of the Agrifood System within the planetary and health boundaries towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) objectives for the World in 2050. START extends the implementation of innovation-driven measures that meets the interim targets of 2030.

START is an academic community that works in close cooperation with private-public partnerships such as the Danish Innomission program AgriFoodTure, and with societal foundations such as the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The START community has the ambition to intensify the European cooperation in a concerted way. For this it has identified opportunities in the Horizon Europe work programme 2023-24. Moreover, it shall contribute with its expertise, knowledge, thoughts and ideas in European partnerships and discussion on agenda for the Horizon Europe strategic plan 2025-2027.

The necessity of green transition in agrifood systems

The challenges facing our globe (SDGs), including Europe (Green Deal ambition with F2F and Biodiversity Strategies as well as Circular Economy and Clean Air & Water Action Plans) calls for action to create a more sustainable development, especially in agricultural and food systems in a digital age with an economy that works for people. A systemic green transition is crucial to secure nutritious food and biomass security with resource sufficiency within the planetary boundaries.

Agriculture is globally a major factor contributing to pressures on planetary boundaries affecting biogeochemical cycles, climate, ecosystems, and biodiversity.

A successful green transmission of the agriculture and food systems in general is a paramount for addressing these essential challenges. And this can solely be achieved by disruptive changes in our society and business, evidence based on best co-creative science like represented by START.

Strategic research, targeted on longer-term solutions ensuring inclusion from a broad actors perspective, plays a key role in developing the tools and strategies unlocking the green transition of the Agrifood System in a societal transformation. This requires an integrative approach of technical innovation and societal transformation. The power of further enhancing the cooperation of scientific researchers from a diversity of disciplines with inclusion of citizens and stakeholders from a broad actors perspective, enabling us to create realistic future solutions together. Sharing of expertise and facilities is needed to create impact even more and faster.

National ambitions for a sustainable Denmark

Our bottom line is to work in compliance with the national ambitions and targets for sustainability in agrifood systems in Denmark, in line with agreed international goals and objectives (UN-SDGs and EC-Green Deal with Farm-to-Fork strategy):

  • Climate: 70% reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Nutrients: Reducing nutrient losses for meeting requirements of the Water Framework Directive and the National Emissions Ceilings Directive.
  • Farm-to-fork strategy with goals for food safety, nutrition, circularity etc.
  • Pesticides: Reduce pesticide use by at least 50% and avoid use that may harm water resources and biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity: Contribute to turning 30% of Europe’s land into protected areas and enhance biodiversity and pollinators in the agricultural landscape.
  • Food: Enhance production to deliver 45% more healthy food by 2050.
  • Energy and materials: Contribute to meeting the needs for substituting fossil carbon sources for energy and materials.