Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016: highlights

Report highlighting environment and rural economy research outputs, and resulting impact, funded through the programme.

Strategic Partnerships

During the 2011-16 programme, funding was available specifically to lever knowledge from the SRP into joint projects with industrial collaborators. The majority of this funding was directed into two "industry facing" SPs in key sectors viewed to have high growth potential: animal science and food and drink science. These initiatives aimed to strengthen the flow of knowledge from basic through applied research to meet longer-term industry needs and to enhance the commercial exploitation of the science base. Much of this work has now been mainstreamed into the current research programme.

Strategic Partnership on Animal Science Excellence ( SPASE)

SPASE was set up to improve the exploitation of research and contribute to innovation and economic growth in the livestock and animal health sectors. This partnership enabled new animal science partnerships to establish and flourish. Throughout the five years of funding there was an expanding collaborator base, and acquisition of significant added-value research funding; for example, two large BBSRC projects, and grants with Food Standards Agency and DEFRA.

SPASE scientists engaged with representatives from across the livestock industry and with policy professionals. Highlights included interactions with food standard agencies regarding diagnosis of zoonotic pathogens and the design of tests for 'real time' diagnosis during disease outbreaks; the Mothers Matter campaign, to provide accessible messages to industry about the potential impacts of early life experiences for livestock health, welfare and productivity; and engagement with both land managers and water industry to prevent contamination of the public water supply with Cryptosporidium. Commercial uptake was demonstrated through animal health industry funding to test bacterial vaccine candidates. Cross-disciplinary interactions thrived, particularly in the application of novel modelling approaches to understanding disease transmission and control.

SPASE also established science in new areas: for example, in development of novel models for analysing data, in using state-of-the-art technologies to define pathogen virulence or in typing field-derived pathogens to provide insights into how they are spread.


Strategic Partnership on Food & Drink Science ( SPFDS)

SPFDS was set up to provide scientific evidence on food and drink to inform industry and government, and to promote long-term economic development in the Scottish food and drink sector.

Key to the success of SPFDS has been close collaborative working with other industry-facing initiatives, including Food and Health Innovation Service ( FHIS) and Interface Food and Drink ( IFD). Partnership with IFD led to the formation of 15 Common Interest Groups including workshops on reformulation for improved health and workshops with Scottish craft brewers which led to the creation of the Scottish Craft Brewers Association.

SPFDS successfully communicated research to the industry, and worked with a wide range of businesses to integrate innovations across the whole Scottish agri-food supply chain, helping to shorten supply chains and retain more value in primary production. Product reformulation was carried out with a range of small businesses, which are often reluctant to engage in Research and Development (R&D). Examples include developing guidance for growing food on contaminated land; evaluating the impact of Campylobacter reduction strategies; sustainable ingredient replacement; introducing health attributes without losing sensory qualities; and reformulation of products for reduced sugar, salt and fat. Work following on from SPFDS research on using diet to adjust the gut microbiome has resulted in major collaborations with multinational companies which supply probiotics.

Stakeholder communities and the wider public were engaged using a variety of innovative approaches, including a Science Bytes series of videos created with FHIS; 'Lunch and Learn' webinars; presentations with chefs; and 'Go with the Grain' a practical recipe book to encourage consumers to eat more oats and barley.


Email: Jenny Watson,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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