The looming General Election poses a number of uncertainties, not least around the colour and composition of the future government, but also the impact on funding for agri-science and, subsequently, the support for translation of research into the field.
Through its election “wish list” the National Farmers’ Union is calling for the next government to confirm its continuing support and funding through the national Agri-Tech Strategy to ensure British science and innovation can reach more farm businesses and drive farming performance for the long term. But what does that really look like?
Collaboration was discussed at our last Pollinator and a number of agribusinesses explained how they assessed the commercial benefits of these projects to develop a research portfolio that met the needs of the business.
The presenters recommended careful selection of the consortium partners, being realistic with timescales and outputs and agreeing in advance the way the partners will manage any intellectual property emerging from the project.
And this is the major challenge across all sectors, that all too often the UK is a world-leading generator of ideas and innovation, but the exploitation and thus the added-value from those ideas often happens overseas.
To ensure that the UK economy and its agri-food industries derive the benefit from the UK’s research output, we need to continue to forge links between those generating the ideas and those able to exploit them, so that further development of research into products and services happens here.
Future ministers being challenged to balance the books must be in no doubt of the need for continued investment in agri-tech and the value it is bringing to the UK.
For that we need to keep generating case studies of successful engagement between industry and research base to keep the pressure on, so that the NFU’s election wish list is delivered.