Impact is driven by continual close engagement with industry stakeholders in all RAU activities, from undergraduate and graduate programmes to our research and knowledge exchange programmes. Engagement with industry is a feature of all of our degree courses, with formal extended placements, regular visiting speakers, and farm and industry visits.
The translation of research is facilitated by the extensive alumni network within the industries we serve. Staff have been actively involved in policy discussions around translation and knowledge exchange (Prof Gaskell as Chair of Government Chief Scientific Advisor’s Food Research Partnership Translation Sub Group). Innovation and entrepreneurship is important across the institution.
The work of the RAU focuses on applied, near-market or contract research in agriculture and land-based studies. The institution has been at the forefront of this specialist knowledge exchange since its inception. As a result key users, beneficiaries, or other audiences approach the RAU for information and advice on science or policy through consultancy or contract research proposals. Academic staff are involved in their specialist areas with such relationships which can readily be pursued to create impact for their work.
The RAU has various methods for engaging with people and organisations that can sponsor research, collaborate on projects, or be participants in knowledge exchange / translational research and assist in the dissemination of the results of its research.
- The Business Development Centre (BDC) employs research-capable staff with formal project management (PRINCE2) training and ISO 9001 certification, to scan for funding opportunities, to build relationships with potential clients and provide quality assurance in project management.
- The School of Agriculture and Food has an Advisory Board whose members are drawn from industry; each also retains various visiting professors and research associates to provide direct links to the agricultural and equine industries.
- RAU 100 Club: a nearly 20-year-old network of over a hundred national and international companies that meets annually with policy makers and diplomats to hear presentations and network together and with staff and students, and organises a fellowship programme in collaboration with industry partners.
- The RAU organises, hosts and delivers a number of prestigious one to three week courses for the industry with partners (eg. the Worshipful Company of Farmers Advanced Business Management Course; the John Edgar Trust Management Development Programme; the Institute of Agricultural Management Leadership and Management Programme. Other bespoke courses are provided for RICS, financial institutions and other industry groups on a regular basis.
- Natural England, Environment Agency and Defra are also a beneficiary of our research. A three day training course was delivered at the RAU in 2013 for Defra for 18 of their employees entitled ‘Introduction into Agriculture’. Previously one day courses had been provided. The course included, for example, findings from Defra funded research [Dr Rhiannon Fisher on bovine tuberculosis and the social context of current policy]. Beneficiaries of other on-going research projects include the Food Standards Agency and Gloucestershire and Herefordshire County Councils.
- Bledisloe Annual Lecture; the opportunity for several hundred senior members of the agricultural community to attend the lecture (given in recent years by David Willetts MP, (Minister of State, DBIS); Professor Sir John Beddington FRS; Professor Sir John Sulston FRS; Professor Sir David King FRS; Professor Sir David Baulcombe) which provides an excellent networking event for staff and postgraduate students.
- One of the main audiences for the RAU’s research are individual farmers and farmer groups who attended seminars (some funded as part of Rural Development Programme England SW knowledge transfer). The circulation RAU network includes 2,000 farmers throughout the SW. Academics from the RAU use these events to translate their research into relevant and practical advice for farmers [e.g. climate change, renewable energy, farm trees, CAP, crop and livestock management]. Research projects also have their own farmer groups or are linked with specific groups. An interactive web-based engagement system is being built at present.
- The Equine Research Group have organised three major conferences to promote their research, with keynotes from Hemmings and /or Moore-Colyer: 2010, European Workshop on Equine Nutrition, (200 delegates from over 10 countries) in conjunction with the European Association of Animal Production (EAAP) and the British Society for Animal Science (BSAS); 2012 and 2014 Horses Inside Out Annual Conferences (150 delegates from the UK and Ireland).