Publication - Strategy/plan

Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Research Strategy for 2016 - 2021

Published: 13 Feb 2015

This strategy sets out the principles and processes behind the investment the Scottish Government will make in research for the Rural Affairs, Food and Environment portfolio from 2016 to 2021.

Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Research Strategy for 2016 - 2021
The delivery mechanisms we will use

The delivery mechanisms we will use

There will be five key mechanisms which will be funded in order to take this strategy forward in 2016-2021 - the Strategic Research Programme, Centres of Expertise, Innovation Funding, Underpinning Capacity and the Contract Research Fund.

Strategic Research Programme

  • The Strategic Research Programme will remain the principal focus of science delivery for the Rural Affairs Food and Environment portfolio.
  • We will continue to use the MRPs as the principal providers of the strategic research the Scottish Government procures.
  • In order to widen the skills base available to the Scottish Government and to accelerate the levels of interdisciplinarity, delivery of the 2016-2021 programme will feature greater levels of collaboration between the MRPs and the Higher Education Institutes of Scotland than at present.
  • A central resource and strategic leadership for knowledge exchange to focus the outputs from the overall programme and create a single identity for the investment in the programme will be established.

Centres of Expertise

  • A new Centre on Plant Health will be established in the lead up to the start of the 2016-2021 programme.
  • Throughout the 2016-2021 funding period, we will work with stakeholders to look for opportunities to develop further Centres where demand indicates that greater access to dedicated science advisory capacity is of benefit.


  • For 2016-2021, funding will be made available specifically to lever knowledge from the Strategic Research Programme into joint projects with industrial collaborators, widening the impact of the research investment.
  • We will continue to pursue collaborations with other science funders both within Scotland and across the UK to maximise the potential application of this investment.

Underpinning Capacity

  • The Underpinning Capacity funding stream will continue to be available to ensure key assets are maintained and their long-term sustainability is secured.
  • Access to, and availability of, the range of science resources supported by this funding to wider audiences will be a key focus of the 2016-2021 period, in line with overarching requirement for increased accessibility of publicly-funded data and facilities.

Contract Research Fund

  • The flexibility to commission short-term policy-led projects has significant impact for policy making, and will be maintained in 2016-2021.
  • Access to these funds has been widened to include CAMERAS partners coming forward with co-constructed proposals.
  • We will improve the visibility of the products of this funding stream to ensure that details of all completed projects are made more easily available to the widest potential audiences.
  • Greater strategic use will be made of this funding to encourage partnerships with other research funders that can support capacity building in areas of common interest and foster connectivity across the research base in Scotland, and beyond.


Email: Liam Kelly