Prof Jackie Hunter is away during early January so her regular blog is hosting guest posts from other BBSRC staff during the next fortnight. This week’s guest author is Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC’s Executive Director for Innovation and Skills and executive lead for industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.
I spent a few days in Cumbria over the holiday period, which is remarkably relevant to many aspects of BBSRC. One of the major industries there is food and farming, not least hill farming. All highly relevant to the Oxford Farming Conference at which the Secretary of State for Defra emphasised as one of the three priorities for the Department going forward is the challenge of growing the rural economy (PDF). Another focus he pointed to is that of our national security in relation to plant and animal disease: a major area of BBSRC investment is in research in these areas and in critical infrastructure such as the new high containment labs being constructed at Pirbright. The Agritech Catalyst, announced recently, will be an important route to supporting research in this area. [...]