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National Policy - research

Underpinning Our Future Work Through Research

Scotland has a proud heritage of excellence in scientific research - supporting innovative businesses and economic prosperity.

Scotland's Research Institutes and Universities are world renowned for their expertise and the impact of the research they produce. Agricultural, plant and animal sciences are amongst the leading performers.

Science, innovation and technology are pivotal to the sustainable economic growth of our food and drink industry and in providing the evidence needed to tackle a whole range of challenges that face us to today, such as climate change, food security and obesity.

Scottish Government supported research

Over the period 2006-2011 the Scottish Government has invested some £350 million to support strategic research programmes on a wide range of topics at our main Research Institutes. The Scottish Government is also one of the largest public funders of food and drink research in the UK.

To help consolidate and strengthen this research base, two of these world renowned institutes; the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute have joined forces to form The James Hutton Institute; with significant research capacity in areas of food, land use and climate change.

The Scottish Government also funds research on fisheries, aquaculture and indirectly support the research of the Food Standards Agency Scotland and research at universities funded by the Scottish Funding Council.

Further research on food and drink is being supported through strategic partnerships aimed at linking relevant expertise in Scottish Research Institutes with that of Scottish Universities.

The Scottish Government recently provided an additional £1.5 million in funding to enable Scotland's scientists to play their part in strengthening the evidence base on food security and climate change through a joint initiative with one of the UK's research councils.

Science into Innovation

There are excellent examples of where this research base has turned science into innovation and there are a number of initiatives to help businesses access relevant expertise in the Scottish research base.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council's support for Interface helps provide a matchmaking and advice service to connect businesses quickly and easily to world class expertise, knowledge and research facilities available in all Scotland's Universities and Research Institutes. The Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher Scheme helps businesses offset the costs of a collaborative research projects.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise have supported a £1.5 million project to enable 14 food and drink companies to work with the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

Support from Scottish Enterprise, delivered through Scotland Food and Drink, has helped 76 companies in the last year alone, to develop new products and processes and leveraged almost £250,000 of additional public and private sector investment in new innovation products.

In February 2011 Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead launched the Food and Health Innovation Service to help companies across Scotland access world class research in food and health to develop new and innovative products. This was followed by the announcement that the Scottish Government has funded a two-year post within the Scottish Food and Drink Federation to help Small to Medium-sized Enterprises reformulate products to make them healthier. Work will get underway from September 2011 and will focus on areas such as calorie reduction, which is the overarching food priority for the Obesity Route Map, and salt reduction.

Food Research Progress Leaflet Nov 2010