Some 106 respondents provided their views in response to a briefing document and questionnaire sent to 160 HIP stakeholders representing the fresh produce, ornamentals and potatoes supply chain, and the funders and providers of horticultural research and knowledge exchange services.
Four respondees were from ornamental horticulture, with 55 from edibles, of whom 22 were unaware of HIP. One of the ornamentals respondees was unaware of HIP’s work.
Tones’ report said: "Broad collective support was expressed for a radically simplified and refocused HIP, of which the main functions would be to:
- Facilitate and contribute to the development of overarching industry and sector strategy and goals in the light of known barriers to supply chain innovation and growth
- Facilitate better alignment of research funder programmes with industry strategy and goals;
- Facilitate better collaboration between R&D providers and provide advice on gaps in R&D capacity
"When supported by a majority of future HIP funders and stakeholders, provide strategic guidance to other bodies to do with education and training, participation in the Agri-Tech Innovation Centres, knowledge exchange between industry and the R&D community, and assessing the uptake and impact of new knowledge and technology.
To achieve this, a new operational approach is needed that:
- Utilises no employed or long-term contract staff.
- Relies primarily on the assets and business support services of partner organisations.
- Draws minimal but secure long-term core funding and in-kind support from the major public research funders including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Government Department for Environment Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) and that for Business, Innovation and Science (DBIS).
- Maximises the flexible use of in-kind contributions from other HIP stakeholders including the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the British Growers Association (BGA), the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), and the wider community of horticultural research and knowledge exchange organisations in addressing the HIP’s strategic goals and priorities."
With the approval of the HIP Board and Steering Group, over the remainder of the 2015-16 financial year, a small working group led by acting executive Tones will devise an innovative new HIP business plan for 2015 to 2020, seek financial commitments from target funding partners and seek in-kind support from key stakeholders.
If the outcome is successful, a reformed HIP will be launched as soon as funding agreements have been signed.
Meanwhile, AHDB is to revise its five-year research strategy, which details how AHDB wors with the industry to drive technical innovation. Steve Tones will undertake the review.