New chair to boost International Barley Hub project

New chair to boost International Barley Hub project

29th July 2022

The International Barley Hub, a unique platform aiming. to translate barley research into commercial benefits with support from the Tay Cities Region Deal, has been reinforced through the appointment of experienced farmer George Lawrie as its new chair.

Mr Lawrie takes over from Professor James Brosnan, Director of Research at The Scotch Whisky Research Institute, and a member of the AHDB Wheat and Barley Committees and the UK Malting Barley Committee.

Mr Lawrie has farmed in the Kinross area, Perthshire, and is currently a board member of the James Hutton Institute, as well as Company Secretary of Scottish Agronomy Ltd. He is a past board member of NFUS, were he served as Treasurer and past chair of the Land Use and Environment Committee. He currently serves as a trustee of The Royal Highland Educational Trust and the Scottish Society for Crop Research.

Mr Lawrie said: “With barley accounting for the largest area of cereals grown in Scotland, and with a ready market on our doorstep, the IBH major investment has come at a time when food security is high up in the political agenda. With new research by the IBH we should be able to further refine the crop to help farmers be more sustainable as well as helping to reduce the carbon footprint of a crop that is so important to the Scottish economy. We also need to investigate new markets for barley, and by bringing in top researcher to new world class facilities this will make us the place to go for barley research. This hopefully will help with opening new markets for barley as well as giving us the chance to look at emerging markets around the world and see if we can help with more reliable traits that would allow them to achieve better yields and quality in difficult growing conditions.”

Professor Brosnan commented: “The progress made with the International Barley Hub over the past three years has been fantastic. Co-ordinated by a small team based at the James Hutton Institute, many organisations have worked together to demonstrate the reality of collaborative research which gives a glimpse of the potential future value to be generated by the Barley Hub and partners across the barley world.

George has been part of the Barley Hub team from the beginning, and it is a pleasure to see new leadership in place to implement the next phase of this great project. The Scotch Whisky industry continues to see the Barley Hub as strategically important and I will remain close to future Barley Hub developments as the Director of the new BARIToNE Collaborative Training Partnership supporting 30 PhD projects on barley sustainability, the majority of whom will be based in the new Hub building being built thanks to UK and Scottish Government support through the Tay Cities Deal.”

The International Barley Hub is set to translate scientific research into tangible impacts for all barley-related industries in the breeding, farming, malting, brewing, feed, food and health sectors. It is backed by a share of a £62m transformational Tay Cities Region Deal investment by the UK and Scottish Governments.


IBH is underpinned by the research excellence of the James Hutton Institute, University of Dundee, Scotland’s Rural College and Abertay University, the Rowett Institute and others. Businesses and sectoral interest groups such as the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, Maltsters Association of GB and the National Farmers Union Scotland form part of the demand side of the IBH project consortium.

Hutton CEO, Colin Campbell commented: “On behalf of the James Hutton Institute, I would like to extend my thanks to James Brosnan for his excellent leadership in taking the concept of the IBH and making it a reality. I look forward to working with George Lawrie over the next few years, when the benefits of this unique barley research platform will become increasingly evident, including the opening of a purpose built, multi-million-pound research facility at our site at Invergowrie in 2024. I am very pleased James will continue to be part of the IBH through his leadership of BARITONE led by the SWRI”.

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