A Partnership Between Industry and Academia

Since the creation of the Cool Farm Tool, universities and research organisations have been integral to the Cool Farm community and our mission.


The Cool Farm Alliance has commissioned a virtual Innovation Hub to build upon current relationships and forge new partnerships with internationally-leading universities and their researchers. This Hub will facilitate and help implement the Alliance’s strategy, its future science needs, and its innovation efforts to promote environmentally sustainable food production. The Hub will incubate new ideas and assist the translation of research into innovative new tools and services.

The Innovation Hub also provides a focal point for Alliance members to engage world-leading expertise and capability that resides within the academic research base. Knowledge exchange between Alliance members and the academic partners will help to evolve research outcomes into useful and scalable tools.

The partnership between industry and academia is a key pillar of the Cool Farm initiative, and we’re proud to profile those universities that we work with so closely.

Research Organisations

University of Aberdeen

Established in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest in the UK and is consistently ranked in the top 1% of the world’s universities. Renowned for its world-leading research in health, energy, food and nutrition and environmental and biological sciences, 76% of research was judged ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ through the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014). With a community of students and staff covering 120 nationalities, the University of Aberdeen is renowned for its international outlook, and in 2016 was ranked by Times Higher Education in the top 40 of the world’s 200 ‘most international universities’, making it the second highest Scottish university to be included in the rankings.

Our environmental modelling group has world leading expertise in research on the soil carbon and nitrogen cycles. Our work involves modelling of the soil carbon and nitrogen cycles and developing tools for use by land managers and policy makers to reduce negative environmental impacts from agriculture.

The University of Aberdeen has led the development of the greenhouse gas calculator in the Cool Farm Tool since its inception in 2008.

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is a complex and stimulating organisation, which enjoys an international reputation as a world-class centre of excellence in research and teaching. It employs over 11,000 staff and has a student population of over 22,000. Oxford’s researchers engage with academic, commercial and cultural partners across the world to stimulate high-quality research and enable innovation through a broad range of social, policy and economic impacts. Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system.

University of Cambridge

Cambridge University has a Strategic Research Initiative on Global Food Security. This aims to deliver research that contributes to ensuring affordable access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, whilst maintaining sufficient natural capital to do so sustainably. Tackling this complex challenge requires collaboration across disciplines including natural and social sciences, engineering and the humanities.

Within the University Zoology Department, the Conservation Science Group focuses on two broad questions: what are the key threats to wild nature? And, what are the main actions needed to reverse its decline? One of the group’s main aims is to ensure that conservation and land management decisions are informed by scientific evidence.

Members of the Conservation Science Research Theme have been working with the Cool Farm Alliance to incorporate scientific evidence from the Conservation Evidence database into the land management decisions made by growers. Dr. Lynn Dicks, a Lecturer in Animal Ecology in the Department of Zoology, has led development of the Cool Farm Biodiversity Tool since its inception. The tool uses a combination of expert knowledge and rigorous evidence review and assessment methods developed at Cambridge, to select and score farm management actions for biodiversity.

The University of Cambridge leads development of the Cool Farm Biodiversity Tool, ensuring it uses the best available scientific knowledge, and building new versions for other parts of the world. Mediterranean, tropical forest and temperature grassland are immediate priorities.


GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national research Centre for earth sciences. It belongs to the Helmholtz Association with its 18 research institutes focusing on fields from space to health to earth and environment. The main research focus of GFZ is the geosphere and scientists work on geo-archives, geodesy, the physics and chemistry of the earth, earth materials as well as geo-technology. We develop a profound understanding of systems and processes of the solid earth together with strategies and options for action to address global change and its regional impacts, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, as well as to assess the human impact on system earth.

Furthermore, research is also looking into the interactions between geosphere, biosphere and atmosphere by investigating greenhouse gas emissions over natural landscapes, planning and maintaining agricultural testbeds for satellites missions or analyzing water movement in areas dominated by agriculture and forestry.

Both the section of hydrology and the section of remote sensing are actively involved in the development of the Cool Farm Tool.  Our key contribution is the development of the water metrics together with partners of the CFA since 2014.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research is a collaboration between Wageningen University and the Wageningen Research foundation. Its mission is ‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life’. A staff of 6,500 and 10,000 students from over 100 countries work everywhere around the world in the domain of healthy food and living environment for governments and the business community-at-large. The strength of Wageningen University & Research lies in its ability to join the forces of specialised research institutes and the university.

One of the research institutes is Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra), which is the leading research institute for our green living environment. It offers a combination of practical, innovative and interdisciplinary scientific research across many disciplines related to the green world around us and the sustainable use of our living environment. Wageningen researchers are actively involved in further development and application of the Cool Farm Tool.

Currently, Wageningen is leading the development of an updated module for the dairy and other livestock sectors in collaboration with stakeholders from the Cool Farm Alliance.