RESAS Strategic Research: 2014 Highlights

A report highlighting research outputs and resulting impact that were funded though the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) division within the Scottish Government's Rural Affairs, Food and Environment portfolio in 2013-14.


We are approaching the final year of the 2011-16 funding cycle, and work is well underway to identify ways we can improve and adapt our strategy to address any changes to the needs and importance of the research since the start of the programme. The 2016-21 research strategy has already been announced, and places an emphasis on an increasingly integrated view of the research we support. It is recognised that there is a need to evolve from a functional/structural environmental view to one that acknowledges the complexity of the challenges including its unpredictability. This means adopting a 'systems thinking' approach to generate new knowledge and insights and deliver research that contributes to meeting the Scottish Government's vision and delivering the required outcomes.

Currently we have a two-programme approach with each programme - Environmental Change, and Food, Land & People - encompassing four research themes. Looking forward to the new cycle, we plan to shift to a structure with three high-level research themes that support a number of specific policy outcomes:

  • Natural Assets - using our natural capital within a framework that helps ensure the integrity, health and functionality of key ecosystem services are maintained while maximising their contributions to the high-level outcomes sought.
  • Productive and Sustainable Land Management and Rural Economies - supporting a diversity of rural industries, food and other primary production, helping Scottish businesses innovate, and generating new options and solutions for Scottish agriculture.
  • Food, Health and Wellbeing - about ensuring we have healthy and vibrant communities that are built around community-led innovation, good local environmental quality and secure supply chains.

We will continue to use the MRPs as our principal providers of research and they will continue to receive the majority of the funding. However we also recognise the valuable contribution made by the Universities and will aim to strengthen and enhance our collaboration with them.

The three CoEs were established to help bridge the research base with the needs of those developing policy. Feedback on these has been incredibly positive and we plan to continue supporting the CoEs in the 2016-21 cycle. However, two Strategic Partnerships (Animal Science and Food & Drink) which were created to strengthen links between research and business in these sectors will not form part of the new portfolio. In their place, a new industry engagement mechanism - Innovation Platforms - will be created.

We will continue to support research that is relevant, respected and responsive to Scotland's communities, its people and to the rural economy. We place research at the heart of the Scottish society and look to our researchers to proactively contribute to the health, wealth and wellbeing of the nation and all of Scotland's people.


Email: Jenny Watson

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