Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Our philosophy on working with Industry

Rothamsted Research, supported by the BBSRC and Sciencewise-ERC with funding and advice, has undertaken a public and stakeholder dialogue to explore developing guiding principles for how Rothamsted should work with industry.

More details of the project are available on the Sciencewise website: http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/rothamsted-research/

The report of the dialogue will be available and the independent evaluation report will be available on our website by the end of May 2014.

This Report will help shape our new knowledge exchange and commercialisation strategy as well as help reshape and redefine our philosophy below which we will develop jointly with the public.

Our current overarching philosophy is that we need to work with government policymakers, non-government organisations (NGOs), agribusinesses and farmers if we are to deliver the knowledge, innovation and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for agriculture.

In agriculture, we need to develop farming methods and crops that grow using less land, less water, less fertiliser and pesticides than we have historically done. To overcome this grand challenge of producing more with less, we cannot afford to exclude anyone from our conversations regardless of their background, politics and beliefs. We need to join forces with multiple partners if we are to find solutions to the very serious issue of future climate change and associated issues of food, energy and water security.

Our values

  • To conduct world class research in bioscience
  • To be independent, objective, open-minded and transparent
  • To deliver through building partnerships and fostering relationships
  • To lead, educate and inspire at an international level
  • To listen and adapt to changing priorities
  • To foster ethical research, encourage active reflection among scientists on the wider implications of their work, and support constructive communication between scientists and the public on complex and challenging issues

* shared values with the UK Government's Universal Ethical Code for Scientists of Rigour, Respect and Responsibility.

No one organisation has all the answers and there are no simple solutions. No single approach can deliver sustainable agriculture with high productivity and value. Instead we must work together to provide a range of solutions and a range of options to suit the differing needs and choices of individual farmers.

We are also aware that research cannot be conducted without finance and in a world where public finance is limited in austere times, it is our duty to collaborate more with non-publicly funded partners.

As such we have a number of projects (around 5% of our total financial portfolio) with industry. In the same way we work with our public funders, we also work with industry in a two-way relationship to help us get a more complete picture of farmers and market needs.

This key point here is that all our funding bodies, including industry, help inform the direction of our research but have no say in how a Rothamsted scientist interprets her/his own results. The principles of academic freedom and independent peer review apply to Institutes like Rothamsted Research, just as they do in Universities.

As such Rothamsted values its work with partners in Industry and we do not agree with those who feel that working with industry, compromises our independence. We believe the benefits of the new knowledge and innovative ideas created through the science at Rothamsted can only be realised by working with commercial partners from SMEs, start-ups and established agribusinesses. Working with these partners we are able to turn our scientific knowledge into technologies that we can put into farmers hands to benefit them directly, because it is only these industrial partners that have the necessary infrastructure to develop and distribute these innovative technologies to those who need it. At the end of the day our knowledge is nothing if it cannot be useful for farmers.

Rothamsted will work with anyone who shares our values and our objectives of developing innovations that benefit our health, agriculture and the environment.

Rothamsted Research is, and always will be, an independent scientific research organisation providing advice, new knowledge and innovation objectively and free from bias.