The Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) believes that Scotland has an opportunity to translate itsexcellence in animal bioscience research into benefits for animals,humans and the Scottish economy.
This is the principal conclusion of a report published today by the SSAC, which organised a workshop to promote greater collaborative working across the animal bioscience sector in Scotland. However, the council also believes it is essential for any forward strategyfor animal science in Scotland to take a pan-Scotland view and a joinedup approach.
The key recommendations for further consideration by the animal bioscience community include:
- Exploring the concept of exploiting the agri-food industry – science base network in Scotland as an international focus for activity and inward and external investment, focused on understanding and enhancing the management and production systems of food animals;
- Identifying opportunities for Scotland to be a global leader in research associated with food-borne infections through strengthening research programmes, increasing consumer confidence and proactive prevention of disease;
- Development of thematic strategies for research pooling under the overarching governance of the Scottish Animal Bioscience Network;
- Assessment of the need for provision of a large animal pathogen containment research facility for Scotland;
- Capacity building and better sharing of information to promote and enhance cross disciplinary research opportunities; and
- Greater emphasis on the informatics infrastructure including improved training in this area.
Since the workshop the SSAC has reported that a steering group has drawn up a concept note, which proposes the creation of a Scottish Partnership for Animal Science Excellence (SPASE). This partnership aims to exploit the existing excellence in Scotland, pooling its research strengths and enhancing further its international competitiveness. SPASE will increase critical mass to retain and attract the best scientists to work in Scotland and will substantially increase external investment into these institutions.
Scottish cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment, Richard Lochhead said: “The findings of this workshop confirm our own view of the potential of Scotland’s animal bioscience to be of world leading quality in areas of key interest to the Scottish Government.
“We have both breadth and depth in the animal sciences in Scotland and not only are they excellent in the science, they also add value to our livestock industry. I hope that through the greater collaboration proposed they can really help Scotland’s livestock industry to both mitigate against climate change and adapt to its effects.”
Professor Maggie Gill, chief scientific adviser, rural affairs and the environment, Scottish government said: “Animal bioscience is an area where Scotland has real expertise, from the development of Dolly the Sheep to the treatment of diseases that can otherwise have a devastating effect on agriculture.
“This research is great news for Scotland’s well being and economy as there is huge potential for it to translate into benefits for human health. I welcome the report and look forward to seeing closer collaboration in this key area of scientific research.”
Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser for Scotland (co-chair of the SSAC) said: “Scotland is extremely well placed to be at the forefront in addressing the animal bioscience challenges of the future. By working more closely together, the community can enhance its international impact and will be a magnet for both research and business talent.
“I am delighted that the SSAC has been able to play a key role in bringing the animal bioscience community together, and wish the community every success in achieving its ambitions.”