Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA) research programme 2022-2027: mid-programme review report

Findings of the mid-programme review of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture research programme 2022 to 2027.

Annex B: Programme Structure

The Strategy for ENRA Research 2022-2027[3] was published in March 2021 and sets out the Scottish Government’s priority scientific research themes and topics. It is suggested that board members read this document to gain a greater understanding of the portfolio.

The Scottish Government invests nearly £50 million in the ENRA portfolio a year. The programme has three overarching objectives.

  • It provides the evidence and advice needed to deliver on the government’s key priorities.
  • It funds applied solutions to real world challenges with direct benefits to industry and wider society.
  • It underpins central elements of Scotland’s wider bio-tech sector.

The science delivered within the portfolio falls within the following themes:

Theme A: Plant and Animal Health A1 Plant disease

  • A2 Animal disease A3 Animal welfare

Theme B: Sustainable Food System and Supply B1 Crop improvement

  • B2 Livestock improvement B3 Agricultural practice
  • B4 Food supply and security
  • B5 Food and drink improvement B6 Diet and food safety

Theme C: Human Impacts on the Environment C1 Climate change

  • C2 Agricultural GHGs C3 Land use
  • C4 Circular economy and waste C5 Large scale models
  • C6 Use of outdoors and greenspace

Theme D: Natural Resources D1 Air quality

  • D2 Water D3 Soils
  • D4 Biodiversity D5 Natural Capital

Theme E: Rural Futures

  • E1 Rural economy
  • E2 Rural communities E3 Land reform

Theme F: Cross-cutting modelling activities F1 Knowledge exchange

  • F2 Horizon scanning

The programme is designed to produce high quality scientific outputs which are useful, accessible and influential for government and other users. This requires a strong focus on engagement and knowledge exchange to ensure that research outputs fully inform the policymaking process and are accessible and useable by a wide range of external stakeholders. To achieve this, funding is delivered through several routes explained below.

1. Our largest funding line is the Strategic Research Programme: This programme delivers long term strategic research through 123 research projects.

2. We also fund the Underpinning National Capacity Programme: This programme provides funding for several key research capabilities including services, PhD studentships, post-doctoral appointments, outward-looking strategic links and alliances with universities and other research providers. It also funds a responsive support to policy capability providing a network of scientists at the research institutions available to respond to questions from RESAS analysts and SG officials.

3. There is a Responsive Research Fund: This is a small flexible programme that will deliver RESAS priority-led responsive projects.

4. Separately under this budget we fund five Centres of Expertise – the Centres are virtual expert teams who draw upon a wide network of researchers at different institutions across the country to meet policy needs. They provide a direct route for policy teams to design and commission research. In 2022-23, the Centres of Expertise spent approximately £6.5m. The five centres are listed below:

a) Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks (EPIC): brings together Scottish-based expertise to best prepare Scotland's livestock industry and stakeholders for disease outbreaks.

b) Centre of Expertise on Water (CREW): delivers advice and evidence on a wide range of topics including flooding, catchment management, and protecting drinking water.

c) Centre of Expertise on Climate Change (CXC): delivers research to support policies on adapting to the changing climate and transitioning to net zero. This centre’s remit is wide-ranging, including reducing GHG emissions and adaptation to future climate challenges.

d) Plant Health Centre: delivers scientific evidence to support decisions about pests and pathogens that threaten Scotland’s plants from agriculture and horticulture through to forests.

e) Knowledge Exchange (SEFARI Gateway): actively engages across the research providers to promote knowledge exchange, maximise research impact and improve research communication.

Most of the funding is received by five research institutions in Scotland. These are collectively referred to as the Main Research Providers (MRPs). These bodies are independent, but they are significantly dependent on Scottish Government funding. These institutes collectively employ 470 staff to work on our research programme. The annual grant funding received via this programme accounts for between 10% and 70% of their income:

  • The James Hutton Institute (JHI): provides focused research into crops, soils and land use, food, energy and environmental research. JHI receives the greatest proportion of funding from the ENRA portfolio, in 2022-23 they received around £20m.
  • Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS): is a subsidiary of the James Hutton Institute and specialises in the development and application of the quantitative methods needed to enhance scientific knowledge and impact.
  • Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC): provides a broad spectrum of research activities from animal behaviour, genetics and epidemiology to soils, agricultural systems and environmental factors.
  • Moredun Research Institute: provides focused research into livestock health and welfare. Moredun undertakes internationally-recognised research into infectious diseases of livestock, and develops new diagnostic tests and vaccines to improve the detection of and prevention of diseases.
  • The Rowett Institute: provides focused research on food, drink, and human nutrition.


Email: SRF@gov.scot

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