PhD Scholarship in Sources of Innovation in the Fresh Produce Industry


CP 131 - PhD Scholarship in Sources of Innovation in the Fresh Produce Industry

Start Date: 
Completion Date: 
Project Leader: 
Rosemary Collier, University of Warwick
CP 131

HDC project cost: £33,939


Project summary

It is acknowledged that the UK has strengths in the elements vital to support the growth of the fresh produce sector, including institutes and university departments at the forefront of areas of research vital to agriculture and related technologies, and innovative and dynamic farmers, food manufacturers and retailers. Despite this, UK agriculture’s productivity growth has declined relative to our major competitors. This has been linked to a decline in the uptake of new technologies.
There are a number of factors which have been associated with hindering the UK in developing and using innovation and new technologies, including the regulatory regime and skills gaps. There has been a growing perception that many of resources being put into biological and agricultural research, particularly fundamental science, are not resulting in commensurate gains in new products and technologies. The issue is not peculiar to the agriculture and food industries and has been raised in the context of medical research. The term ‘translational research’ has been used increasingly and this describes the process by which early-stage innovations are advanced to the point where they become attractive for further development by the industry.
The Food Research Partnership “issues group” on translation of research into use posed the following question in 2010: How can the translation and exploitation of food research be improved, and what is the balance of roles between public and private sectors? The National Horticulture Forum was asked to contribute to this study and they produced a short paper identifying innovations which have come into practice over the last 10-15 years in the strawberry crop and the Brassica crop and their technological origins and processes of research translation.
The interest in, and activity associated with, improving the delivery and uptake of innovation has increased considerably in more recent times, culminating in the launch of the UK Agricultural Technologies Strategy on 22 July 2013. More specifically, for horticulture and potatoes, the aim of the newly-formed Horticulture Innovation Partnership is to provide a ‘think tank’ to scope out strategy to meet the technical requirements for the horticultural industry. It will be a point of contact for the supply chain and will support the development and exploitation of scientific opportunities.
Aims and objectives
The aim of this PhD project is to address the following question:
How can the translation and exploitation of research for the fresh produce sector be improved?
The student will use the global literature on translational research relating to agriculture, medicine and other industries, contrasting commercial versus public sector approaches and undertake original research, developed around case studies, to address the following questions:
1. How is the fresh produce Research & Development/Knowledge Transfer pipeline constructed?
2. What are the key issues or problems relating to translation and exploitation of research within the supply chain?
3. Are these problems specific to a particular part of the supply chain?
4. What methods of knowledge transfer/communication channels have been found to be the most effective?
5. Are there good examples of effective translation and exploitation of research?
6. What possible metrics exist to measure the degree of success in translation of research into use?
7. How do stakeholders go about communicating their needs to other parts of the supply chain?
8. What incentives exist /should exist for producers to take up new technologies or methods?
9. What possible actions or recommendations would help to address the issues?
10. In the final year, the project should seek to develop and test innovative ways to instigate behavioural change and implementation along the supply chain.