GIFS signs agreement to accelerate social science research in food security

Posted on March 09, 2020

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University of Saskatchewan (USask) research has received a $675,000 boost from the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), to investigate social science impacts on food security and barriers to agri-food innovation.

The grant from GIFS will fund collaborative studies with experts in USask’s Centre for the Study of Science and Innovation Policy (CSIP) in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and in the university’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

The work will be led by Distinguished Professor Peter Phillips in CSIP and USask Industry Funded Research Chair Stuart Smyth, who is also associate professor in the university’s department of agricultural and resource economics.

“Agriculture and the agri-food sectors are vital to Canada and Saskatchewan’s economy, and advancing these sectors requires new thinking and collaboration with diverse stakeholders,” said Stephen Visscher (CBE), GIFS’ director of strategic partnerships and chief operating officer. 

“This alliance with skilled social scientists supports GIFS' collaborative approach to discover, develop and deliver novel production agriculture solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable, and have the social license to operate.”

Social science plays an important role in research, providing tested and factual information about the adoption and adaptation of new products and services. During the three-year alliance, Phillips and Smyth will work with GIFS scientists, performing necessary research with the goal of accelerating the process from innovation to commercialization of safe, nutritious and accessible food products.   

“Innovation is much more than invention. Demonstrating an innovation will create market demand, as well as scaling up and commercializing new technologies and products is an art,” said Phillips. “Getting all this right takes significant research and analysis and this is what we will undertake.”

Social science research provides necessary information about the socio-economic factors that shape and sustain innovation, so as to limit impediments from research through to commercialization.

“With the uncertainty regarding the speed or frequency of climactic changes on Canadian agriculture, it is more important than ever to have efficient commercialization and regulatory systems that are capable of rapidly delivering new crop varieties,” said Smyth. “This will help ensure Canada’s contribution to improving global food security.”

 

Global Institute for Food Security