Research at crop science organisation NIAB has delivered an 18-fold return on investment to the wider UK economy, according to an independent study.
The economic impact report, commissioned by NIAB and conducted by Brookdale Consulting, concluded that for every £1 spent on research at NIAB, at least £17.60 is returned to the UK economy through improved production efficiency, economic growth, import substitution, export earnings and inward investment.
The study focused on five key areas of R&D by the NIAB Group:
In each of these five case study areas, together accounting for around 20% of NIAB’s total research income, the report identified a high level of ongoing actual impacts as well as potential future impacts, reflecting NIAB’s linking role between fundamental science and practical application.
Report author Donald Webb said: “The 18-fold return on investment identified compares very favourably to any other research-based organisation in the agriculture sector or beyond. In addition, our study concluded that NIAB’s critical mass of skills, facilities, networks and expertise has a strong contribution to make to future challenges including climate change adaptation and resilience, sustainable intensification, economic growth and food security.”
Welcoming the report on behalf of NIAB, chief executive Dr Tina Barsby said: “NIAB is still widely recognised for its founding role in varieties and seeds, which continues to this day. But as this impact report demonstrates, more recently NIAB has successfully adapted and diversified from its position as quasi-Government institute to become a leading international centre for crop science with a broad and expanding portfolio of near-market agricultural research.
“At all levels, the focus of NIAB’s applied research activity is to improve the productivity, efficiency and resilience of UK agricultural and horticultural crop production. This independent study provides a resounding thumbs-up to the value and impact of our research.”
NIAB has a £25 million turnover and 2500 members, of which close to half are farmers. It has recently joined forces with the University of Cambridge to establish the Crop Science Centre, a coalition of expertise between NIAB, the University’s Department of Plant Sciences (DPS) and the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University (SLCU).
The Crop Science Centre, which will be formally launched on October 1, 2020, combines skills and develops expertise from all the organisations, including cutting-edge and fundamental plant science research underpinning yield enhancement, crop pre-breeding, and the translation of basic research into sustainable agriculture and extension services.