Kossoff on... keeping the momentum going

The decision by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) to launch a £13m R&D fund is good news by any measure (HW, 2 October).

With the EU's decision on pesticides, there is no question that new crop protection solutions need to be developed — now. This fund will undoubtedly help in achieving that goal.

What is more important, however, is what you as an industry can and should learn from this exercise. Most specifically, what actions you must continue to take.

Applied R&D in your sector has been suffering from continuously reduced funding for at least two decades. As a result, the sector — as well as the country - is at a real disadvantage. Even though these funds are welcome, they are still far too little. The question remains whether or not they will be too late.

It should not have taken the EU's decision to propel the Government to provide this funding. In fact, not only this but previous governments should have been aware that there would be consequences to their respective decisions to reduce R&D funding.

That reduction has been indicative of those governments' systematically decreased focus on and commitment to agriculture in general. In contrast, this funding not only helps solve the immediate problem, it creates immediate and future jobs.

It is the recent loud-voiced lobbying that industry groups and leaders have been doing that has forced the Government to take an alternative look at its policies. BIS took action because you took action.

Don't wait for the next emergency; you can't afford the risk. You've got traction; take advantage of it. Don't let up. Don't rest on your laurels. Keep fighting the good fight — and win.

Leslie L Kossoff is an executive adviser specialising in strategy and corporate turnaround.

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