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Clean cold experts receive multi-million funding boost

Experts leading research into sustainable cooling have received a US$10.95mn boost that secures work at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) until 2025

Next phase funding from the UK government will support recruitment of lecturers, technicians and research associates on the ACES campus in Kigali, Rwanda. Additional equipment will also be funded to aid further exploration of clean cold-chains for food and health. Development of early-stage and supervised PhD research programmes are backed by the DEFRA funding. It also supports the roll-out of further Specialized Outreach and Knowledge Establishment (SPOKE) hubs to share knowledge, technology demonstration and capacity building into other African markets.

“Our work enables Africa’s communities to discover and unlock their economic potential and build cold-chain services for resilient and sustainable development,” commented Toby Peters, project lead professor and director of Centre for Sustainable Cooling at the University of Birmingham. “ACES can help to ensure that fresh produce reaches domestic and international consumers in its best condition, while reducing emissions, preserving natural resources and increasing farmers’ income,” he added. He also mentioned that energy-efficient and sustainable cold logistics would help reduce vaccine waste which would not only be important for traditional vaccines and health needs, but also vital while deploying new mRNA vaccines requiring sub-zero and potentially ultra-cold cold-chains.

Total UK funding to date for the programme is more than US$18.43mn and, alongside ACES, includes funding to provide the technical assistance to support the development of its second Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad, India, working with the Government of Telangana. The Centre for Sustainable Cooling, working with ACES co-lead, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will also be organising a study tour to the UK in September for its Rwandan and Kenyan partners, which culminates in an international cold-chain summit at the University of Birmingham on 29 September. Participants will include high level government officials and representatives of the University of Rwanda, Integrated Polytechnic Regional College Kigali, and African Centre for Technology Studies (Kenya).

Delegates have planned to visit cold-stores, ACES partner Cranfield University, as well as the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre at Tyseley Energy Park, which will help them build collaboration from BEIC to ACES and a corridor to the African market for UK clean cooling and refrigeration technology and service providers and innovators.