School of Social and Political Science

Innovation in life sciences (agriculture, food and health)


Innovation, governance and engagement strategies and their interactions across a range of life sciences

Our research cluster has a commitment to bringing interdisciplinary social science to bear on the evolution of, and innovation within, the global life sciences.

We address emerging science and technology relevant to the circular bioeconomy by focusing on the key areas of:

  • health and medicine
  • agriculture and food security
  • energy and environment 

In all these areas we address gaps in the ability of innovators to foresight the pathways and value chains for new life-science based innovations, in academia and in companies (e.g. synthetic biology and regenerative medicine). 

Our strength lies in understanding regulatory and policy impacts on innovation across whole innovation pathways and identifying how different forms of governance and stakeholder engagement can both facilitate and inhibit innovation.  

Our projects

Examples of some of our current and recent projects:

  • Diagnostic Innovation and Livestock: Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance. Cross-council initiative (ESRC)
  • The role of livestock in food system resilience in remote, upland regions. Cross-Council initiative (BBSRC)
  • How to link industrial and social innovation for inclusive development: lessons from tackling cancer care in Africa (ICCA) (ESRC)
  • Innovation ecosystem around pig genomics (ERC)
  • Genome Canada: farmer use of genetics for health in pigs
  • Public engagement tool for animal genetics (Horizon 2020)
  • Development of an Integrated Neonatal Survival and Sustainable Antibiotic Plan (Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board)
  • Mitigating the environmental impact of cattle and sheep: animal genetics and farmers’ readiness for uptake (ESRC)
  • BSI PAGIT Project: The role of standards in the governance of innovative technologies

Collaborations and impact

Staff within this cluster collaborate with many national and international organisations. 

In Edinburgh, we work closely with the:

  • Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology (CSE, CMVM)
  • Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security
  • Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) (CMVM)

In the UK, we have close collaborations with colleagues at:

  • Open University
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • Imperial College London
  • University College London (UCL)
  • University of Sussex

In Africa, through the Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) project, we have collaborations in:

  • Botswana
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe

The impact of our research includes, among many others:

  • providing advice and guidance to the Scottish and UK Governments
  • development of new standards for the British Standards Institution
  • contributions to the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative

Many Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) staff within this research cluster are also part of the Innogen Institute. Please visit its website for more information on recent research, collaborations and impact.

Joyce Tait

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