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Themes Introduction



1 April 2011 to 31 March 2016


1. In the 5 years since the Strategic Research for SEERAD 2005-2010 was published there has been a big change in the nature of the evidence required to underpin policy development and implementation.

2. In 2006, the Stern report was published which has resulted in the passing of Climate Change Acts in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments. In 2007/08 there was a significant spike in food prices globally which highlighted the need for Governments to give a higher profile to food production than had been the case in recent decades. Scottish and UK food policies have emerged over the last 2 years, which take account of the links between the food industry and the economy, but also links between food and health and food and the environment.

3. In addition, in Scotland, the structure of the Civil Service has changed, with policy development being much more cross-cutting in nature than previously and much more emphasis within policy implementation on a partnership approach between the Scottish Government and other public bodies. In the context of these Programmes the key partnership is CAMERAS (Co-ordinated Agenda for Marine, Environmental and Rural Affairs Science). This partnership includes key Policy Directorates in the Scottish Government (the main customers for the research) and 9 partners who commission research.

4. Partnership working also features at UK level, with the major funders of food and environmental research (i.e. Research Councils and Government Departments) having made commitments to align their Strategies through co-ordinated programmes of research with a strong focus on impact. The 2 co-ordinated programmes of relevance to our research are: 'Living with Environmental Change' and the Food Security programme.

5. It was thus essential for the next round of research commissioning to respond to these changes. The nature of the programmes described in this document has thus been informed by a range of consultations with an independent advisory panel, policy colleagues and stakeholders and by the discussions and workshops held jointly with other research funders.

6. The key changes which have been incorporated into the Scottish Government Research Programmes for 2011-16 can be summarised as follows:

  • There are 2 Programmes each consisting of 4 Themes.
  • The Environmental Change Programme includes research deliverables aimed at contributing to helping Scotland be more resilient to environmental change. The Programme needs to be informed by, and to inform, key Policy Directorates across the Scottish Government with respect to the external pressures and the need to respond to changes and impacts that are largely out with our control.
  • The research in this Programme also needs to develop strong links with the Living with Environmental Change programme.
  • The Food and Rural Industries Programme includes research deliverables aimed at optimising the use of Scotland's natural assets. The Programme needs to be informed by and to inform key Policy Directorates with respect to help to build a sustainable future in which economic and social activity is balanced with protecting and nurturing all of Scotland's valuable assets.
  • Programme Co-ordinators for each Programme are expected to co-ordinate the links with the relevant Policy Divisions and also with the UK level research programmes.
  • The 2 Programme Co-ordinators are expected to work together to ensure the cross-fertilisation of ideas between the 2 Programmes.
  • In each Programme, the research is structured in terms of desired outcomes or Themes. The wording of these Themes has been developed through discussions between policy colleagues and Scottish Government Science Advisors.
  • The wording of the research deliverables has been developed through discussions between senior scientists in the Main Research Providers and Scottish Government Science Advisors.
  • Each Theme is expected to have contributions from more than one Main Research Provider. Each Main Research Provider is expected to contribute to more than one Theme.
  • The desired outcome of the Programme Governance structure is the integration of the evidence base to underpin the development and implementation of complex policies such as Climate Change and Food and Drink.
  • Knowledge Exchange remains a critical deliverable at all levels of the Governance structure. The need to demonstrate the impact of research has never been so important.
  • Co-ordination of Knowledge Exchange between the Main Research Providers with the non-scientific stakeholders is essential, and needs to link closely with the CAMERAS partnership

7. This document refers solely to the Programme Research. Non-Programme Research is covered separately.

8. The Programme Research is structured into eight research Themes brigaded into two programmes:

Environmental Change (Local Responses to Global Change)

Theme 1: Ecosystem Services

Theme 2: Strong and resilient sources and supply chains for water and energy (Water and Renewable Energy)

Theme 3: Technologies and management tools to deliver greater benefits from rural land use and increased resilience to change (Land use)

Theme 4: A rural economy resilient to global and local change (Economic adaptation)

Food, Land and People (Optimising the Potential of Scotland's natural assets)

Theme 5: Efficient and resilient supply chains for food (Food)

Theme 6: Animal/plant health and disease and animal welfare (Health and Welfare)

Theme 7: Healthy safe diets (Diet and Health)

Theme 8: Vibrant rural communities (Rural Communities)

9. Annex A describes the eight themes and their constituent work packages. For each work package, a summary of the policy context and research context is provided that identifies the key research questions that the tenders should address, followed by the research deliverables that the Scottish Government is seeking. There is also a separate theme on programme management and knowledge exchange.

10. The research deliverables detailed in Annex A are the minimum required to meet the needs of the programme. Tenders may include additional deliverables if the Main Research Providers are of the opinion that they will add value to the overall objectives of the programme or theme.

Commissioning arrangements

11. A single tender is required for each theme. This should include the research proposed for each work package within the theme and in addition, the plans for management and knowledge exchange for the themes and work packages.

12. Each theme will involve more than one MRP as will the constituent work packages. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and BioSS are also invited to contribute to proposals under these themes.

13. For each Theme an MRP has been selected to co-ordinate and submit the tender on behalf of all MRPs participating in a Theme. The selected MRP will be known as the lead MRP. The lead MRP for each theme is set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Lead providers for each theme



Lead MRP


Programme management and knowledge transfer



Ecosystem Services



Water and Renewable Energy



Land Use



Economic Adaptation






Health and Welfare



Diet and Health



Rural Communities


14. It is intended that completed theme and work package proposals including total costs will be made public following commissioning. Any potential issues of commercial confidentiality or other sensitivities should be clearly indicated at the time of submission.

15. The programmes/themes will be reviewed in 2013-14/2014-15. Following that review, additional and continuation themes/work packages will be identified and commissioned. Work that is no longer required or is seen to be failing will also be notified to the relevant providers to allow them to adjust activity towards future funding opportunities. From time to time during the life time of the programmes the Scottish Government may require adjustments to the themes/work packages in line with changing customer requirements. Generally these changes will be discussed at the programme board (see specification for programme management in Annex A).

16. Elements within each work package may last for different periods. Work packages may change in size over the duration of programme period depending on the nature of the outcomes required and the complexity of the research implied. These factors should be taken into account in presenting proposals for work and be reflected in the programme management arrangements. Research deliverables should be structured in such a way that they facilitate the reporting of progress in each year of the programmes.

Financial Framework

17. Proposals for research as part of the themes and work packages should take account of the following financial framework.

18. The Scottish Government plans to invest in programme research, non-programme research, Centres of Expertise, Strategic Partnership Initiatives and its Contract Research Fund over the 5-year period 2011-16 but it does not expect to know its new financial baseline until late autumn 2010.

19. Until then MRPs should plan on the basis that the funding available to them for 2011-12 and beyond for programme research, non-programme research, centres of expertise and strategic partnership initiatives will be similar in amount to their programme funding allocation for 2010-11 (yet to be confirmed).

20. However, funding for Centres of Expertise and Strategic Partnership Initiatives will be made available through competition. The Scottish Government expects MRPs collectively to be able to win at least approximately £5m p.a. and £2m p.a. respectively from these sources. These amounts represent half of what the Scottish Government believes will be available.

21. On that basis the Scottish Government plans to make available approximately £43m p.a. for programme and non-programme funding. Grant payments will be made to MRPs in relation to the work carried out under each theme and not as support for an identified organisation. Also the Scottish Government will seek a more exacting relationship between input (funding) and deliverables arising from the work than is currently the case.

22. However in order to give some idea of the priorities we place on the total package tenders should take account of the following guidance:

  • The Scottish Government expects bona fide bids for all themes and all work packages
  • The Scottish Government has provisionally allocated indicative budgets for each theme (Table 2)
Table 2 Indicative budgets for each theme


Short title

Total (£M)

Theme 0

Programme Management


Theme 1

Ecosystem services


Theme 2

Water and Renewable Energy


Theme 3

Land use


Theme 4

Economic adaptation


Theme 5



Theme 6

Health and welfare


Theme 7

Diet and Health


Theme 8

Rural communities


Strategic Relevance

23. Tenders should set out the strategic relevance of the research proposed to the purpose and policies of the Scottish Government, to the cross-Government Research Programmes in which the Scottish Government is a partner and to the needs of end-users (including the public sector, commercial sector and the public).

Scottish Government Economic Strategy

24. The purpose of the Scottish Government is to create a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. The Government's Economic Strategy (GES, November 2007) sets out five strategic objectives towards which all policies and resources are focused and through which sustainable economic growth will be delivered: Wealthier and Fairer, Healthier, Safer and Stronger, Smarter, and Greener. In order to measure progress towards these strategic objectives, the SG has set out a National Performance Framework.

25. Tenders should demonstrate how outputs contribute to the objectives of the National Performance Framework, the five strategic objectives and the Government's single purpose.

Scottish Government Policies

26. The research programme structure is organised to facilitate interactions with the Scottish Government. Research requested under themes 1-4 is aimed primarily, but not exclusively at environmental and climate change issues and policy Research requested under themes 5-8 is aimed primarily, but not exclusively at rural issues and policy Additional important policy customers are those dealing with health (particularly for theme 7) and economic development (particularly for themes 4 and 8).

27. Tenders should demonstrate an understanding of the wider policy context and the particular policy needs that the research outlined is designed to address. Tenderers are advised to involve key policy customers in the preparation of proposals in order to ensure the policy relevance of the research outputs.


28. The Co-ordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science (CAMERAS) has been set up to ensure that all science supported in the Rural Affairs and Environment (RAE) portfolio is effectively targeted in support of the Greener and Wealthier objectives of the Scottish Government and the primary purpose of sustainable economic growth. CAMERAS has identified two headline themes that articulate the main policy challenges for marine, environmental and rural affairs over the next thirty years. These challenges are complex and interacting and include:

a. Local Responses to Climate Change

b. Optimising the Use of Natural Assets

29. Tenders for Themes in Programme 1 - Environmental Change and Programme - 2 Food, Land and People should demonstrate how the research fits with the CAMERAS themes (a) and (b) respectively and its wider objectives.

30. Tenderers are advised to consult and involve relevant CAMERAS partners in the preparation of research proposals and to show in the tender how the research proposed relates to the activities (including research) of these partners and their evidence requirements. The CAMERAS partners are:

• Deer Commission Scotland

• Food Standards Agency in Scotland

• Forestry Commission Scotland

• Quality Meat Scotland

• Scottish Environment Protection Agency

• Scottish Government including Marine Scotland Science and Science Advice for Scottish Agriculture

• Scottish Natural Heritage

• Scottish Water

The Scottish Government will provide contact details for a single point of contact into these organisations shortly after issue of the tender.

Mid programme review

31. The tenders should demonstrate how they take forward the recommendations of the mid programme reviews of the 2006-11 Research Programmes.

UK and wider policy relevance

32. The Scottish Government is a core partner of Living With Environmental Change (LWEC), a partnership between the major UK funders and users of environmental research. LWEC aims to strengthen the evidence base for policy making, through addressing the remaining uncertainties about the impacts of climate change and the links between ecosystems, ecosystem services and human well-being.

33. The UK government, Scottish Government and other Devolved Administrations are strengthening their approaches to food policy, by developing a shared understanding of their goals and priorities for the food system. The Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation sets out a range of research challenges and approaches to improving co-ordination between research funders

34. It is envisaged that Programme - 1 Environment Change will be affiliated with the LWEC initiative and that Programme - 2 Food, Land and People will be affiliated with the Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation. Respectively the tenders should consider their relevance and contribution to the aims and objectives of these initiatives.

35. Tenders should demonstrate that end users from appropriate public sector and commercial sector bodies have been involved in the preparation and planning of the research proposed and that the outputs have relevance to end-user needs. Further requirements for involving end-users in the research are provided below under Knowledge Exchange

Collaboration, Co-ordination and Networking

36. The structure of the Research Programme is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research and to involve several MRPs in each Theme. The aim of this approach is to produce outputs that are more relevant to the complexity of the problems that this research programme seeks to address. Mechanisms designed to create effective links between and within different work packages and Themes will be essential.

37. Tenders should demonstrate how collaboration, co-ordination and networking within and between the work packages of each Theme will be facilitated. Tenderers may wish to pay particular attention to identifying ways in which the work of scientists in different disciplines will be effectively integrated. Where multidisciplinary research is required for delivery of the required outputs, it should be clear from the tender that scientists from all the relevant disciplines have been involved in developing the proposal.

38. The minimal linkages expected between Themes are given in Annex B. Tenders may wish to set out additional linkages that will benefit the research proposed. The lead MRPs will need to demonstrate that they have involved the lead MRPs of linked themes in ensuring that proposals are co-ordinated and that mechanisms will be in place to ensure continued effective communication between themes.

39. Where research proposals require interaction with Non-Programme research, details should be provided of how effective links will be maintained.

40. Tenders should set out mechanisms for scientific networking, collaboration and exchange with scientists in the CAMERAS and wider science communities and should identify where such activities will add value to the work proposed.

Knowledge Exchange and Exploitation of IPR

41. The programme and non-programme work commissioned by the Scottish Government will be required to have an outward facing and wealth creation focus. Knowledge Exchange (KE) will represent the principal activity through which outputs from the research are shaped, shared and communicated with target audiences. Exploitation of IPR to the benefit of Scotland will be one of the ways in which the MRPs contribute to sustainable economic growth.

42. An over-arching KE Strategy should therefore be provided as part of the contribution to the theme on programme management (Work Package 0.2) and at the same time as the theme and non-programme tenders. All organisations participating in tenders are required to contribute to its preparation. The over-arching KE strategy will provide the framework for the KE plans associated with each theme. Individual plans should feed into and contribute to the high level objectives of the over-arching KE strategy.

43. The KE Strategy is expected to generate a significant part of the information required to evaluate the impact of the work commissioned by the Scottish Government. Assessment of this strategy will form part of the peer review exercise.

44. Each Theme tender should be accompanied by a separate work package that specifies how the dedicated KE resources embedded within the theme will be deployed to contribute to the objectives and impacts identified in the over-arching KE strategy. Responsibility for delivery and management of the theme KE plan should be the responsibility of the lead MRP acting in partnership with KE experts within and across participating MRPs.

45. There is a presumption that KE resources will be targeted on outward facing activities that stimulate and deepen engagement with all key target audiences. The resources to support the KE activities directed towards scientific audiences are embedded in the costs of the research Theme. The resources to support the KE activities for non-scientific audiences should be separately identified and be a minimum of 5% of the value of the Theme.

46. In terms of movement from the current position the Scottish Government will expect:

  • closer and more transparent alignment with the National Performance Framework
  • an increased focus on activities that help to stimulate all aspects of innovation;
  • active engagement with Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs)and the farming community where appropriate.

Scientific quality, feasibility and opportunity

47. Tenders should set out the research context in sufficient detail to demonstrate the distinctiveness of the contribution proposed to UK and international science, the opportunities for scientific innovation and originality and the extent to which the research builds on existing strengths or develops new capabilities.

48. Tenders should include sufficient detail in their proposal to ensure that reviewers can assess the clarity and scientific feasibility of the research proposed; including the aims, objectives and hypotheses and the suitability of the approaches, techniques and methods to be employed.

49. Tenders should pay attention to the contributions and value of multi- and interdisciplinary approaches, the use and integration of social sciences and the use of appropriate statistics and biomathematics to ensure robust scientific design and outputs.

50. Tenders should identify and provide proposals for the management of ethical issues (including minimising animal experimentation).

51. Each theme tender will need to identify the significant risks to successful delivery of the research deliverables and the wider outcomes articulated in the policy and research context of the ITT. Examples might include the interdependency on other research outputs or external dependencies out with the control of the researchers. The tender should identify how the risks will be managed

Management Arrangements

52. Efficient and effective management arrangements are crucial to ensuring that the programmes commissioned by the Scottish Government achieve the desired outcomes. Work package 0.1 (in Annex A) sets out the governance structure for the research programme as a whole, together with the roles and responsibilities expected of each function. Governance arrangements should aim to balance a light touch in terms of resources whilst ensuring clear communication and effective project management. There should be adequate arrangements to ensure co-ordination across programmes, themes, work packages and contributing MRPs and communication with the Scottish Government.

Sustainable Development

53. The Scottish Government is committed to the principle of sustainable procurement; a process hereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis and generates benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society, the economy and environment.

54. Tenders should therefore include a consideration of the sustainable development issues pertinent to the proposed. This should cover the extent to which goods and services can be manufactured used and disposed of in ways which reduce resource use, energy use, travel and pollution.

Contract Management

55. Each MRP will follow the procedures for programme monitoring and reporting, as set out in the Programme Management Plan (PMP) which will be produced as part of WP 0.1 'Management Arrangements'. MRPs will be required to provide the programme facilitators with timely and accurate information, including any progress reports and recommendations to take to the Board. This will allow integrated programme board reports to be produced which accurately reflect programme performance and delivery. The reporting will encompass delivery of the outcomes and outputs of each theme, work package and overall objectives.

56. In addition to this, at the end of each financial year each MRP will be required to prepare and submit a financial report, the format of which will be agreed at a later date.

Peer Review

57. All proposals will be subject to peer review. Review Criteria will include:

  • Strategic Relevance
  • Collaboration, Co-ordination and Networking
  • Knowledge Exchange
  • Scientific quality, feasibility and opportunity
  • Finance and Value for money
  • Management

58. To be accepted for funding, proposals must be judged to be of satisfactory relevance against strategic policy and end-user relevance criteria as described above, demonstrate satisfactory plans for knowledge exchange and be of at least national standard with respect to scientific quality.

59. Where proposals do not meet these criteria or otherwise are unsuccessful in peer review, revised proposals will be requested within a time frame to be set at that time.

60. Peer Review will take place in the period from June 30, 2010 with any follow up discussions with the lead MRP and participating MRPs taking place by September 30, 2010 to allow final proposals to be submitted in advance of October 29, 2010 and contract awards by December 5, 2010.