Date of release: Thursday, December 6, 2018

The innovative work of the University of Greenwich's Natural Resources Institute (NRI) has today been named as one of the UK's 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people's everyday lives.

NRI's work on cassava is being honoured in the UK's best breakthroughs list of the last century.

Cassava is a staple food for half a billion people in the developing world but up to 40% of produce can be lost due to its short shelf life. Pests, diseases and access to markets are also challenges.

NRI's award-winning work on this important root crop include the 'NRI Cassava Bag', with built-in curing technology, which extends shelf life for over eight days. And the Cassava Adding Value for Africa (CAVA) project supports farmers with new technologies, training and market links, helping them to increase their incomes from the growth of cassava.

Director of NRI, Professor Andrew Westby said, "NRI's work on cassava is making a real difference to the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa. The CAVA project has supported nearly 500 rural enterprises with the aim of benefitting 200,000 households and has the potential to improve the lives of millions.

"These projects are a reflection of our world-leading programme of research and innovation, which is contributing to global food security and is built on long-term, strong, dynamic partnerships between NRI and our partners in Africa."

The list of breakthroughs demonstrates how UK universities are at the forefront of some of the world's most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives, including the discovery of penicillin, work tackling plastic pollution, ultrasound scans to check the health of unborn babies and the establishment of the Living Wage.

The list was compiled by Universities UK as part of the MadeAtUni campaign to bring to life the difference universities make to people, lives and communities.

Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor David Maguire said: "It is a fantastic achievement for us to be featured in this list. We're extremely proud of the work of our academics and researchers and the difference they are making.

"We're changing the world for the better in Greenwich, and teaching our students to do the same.

"The MadeAtUni campaign is an important initiative for us as it allows students, alumni, the local community and the wider population to understand the work that we do and the impact it has."

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: "Universities really do transform lives. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities and the important work being done by academics.

"The UK's Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people's lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do."

The UK's Best Breakthroughs list: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life was put together in partnership with universities across the UK. As part of the MadeAtUni campaign, every university in the country was invited to nominate the one thing from their institution which they believe has had the biggest impact on people, lives and communities. Over 100 universities submitted a nomination. The entries cover health, technology, environment, family, community and culture and sport.

To find out more about how the CAVA project helps lift farmers out of poverty and improves lives, read Zaitun's story.

You can find out more about the UK's Best Breakthroughs and the MadeAtUni campaign here www.madeatuni.org.uk.