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Biotechnology and Agricultural Development in Low Income Countries: Case Material from the Research Into Use Programme
This working paper summarises three projects funded by the DFID Research into Use programme (RIU) over the period 2009-2011. Each of them can be seen as an experiment in putting previously funded natural resource (RNRRS) research into productive use. Together they indicate how complex is the reality of capitalising productively on scientific research even where this has been commissioned for a useful purpose, in this case poverty alleviation in low-income countries (LICs). The projects (called “best bets” due to their speculative nature) deal with Armyworm (Kenya and Tanzania), striga control/seed priming (Kenya) and BCAs (bio control agents; Ghana). All of them have been influenced by biological research and all have a significant private sector dimension. The projects were funded through a call for proposals that specified consortia involving private sector participation designed to help ensure project sustainability once donor funding has ceased. Applicants were asked to present proposals to a panel consisting of LIC venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and scientists somewhat akin to that used in the popular “Dragons Den” BBC television programme. The paper’s sources are material from a series of RIU discussion papers combined with interviews in East Africa over the period November – December 2012. Section 2 gives brief details of the RIU, its rationale and inception. Section 3 summarises the rationale for the interventions, the RNRRS projects that provided their scientific base, their co-operating organisations, objectives, progress and issues arising over the period. The final section provides conclusions and implications for policy.
 The Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy under which the Central Research Department of DFID funded some £200 million worth of developmental research mainly in UK centres of excellence
 The projects were part of a sub-programme of the RIU, called the “Best Bets”. These were projects designed to build sustainable private sector capacity in LICs.
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