A brief background to yourself and field of study.
I graduated from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh University in 2010. I worked as a Veterinary Surgeon in clinical practice and industry across three continents, before returning to Edinburgh to set up as a consultant. Today I support both private and public sector clients and am personally motivated by the use of investment and innovation to optimise animal health, welfare, food security and sustainable agriculture & aquaculture. I am an elected member of the British Veterinary Association’s Scottish Council and studying for a part-time Executive MBA at the University of Edinburgh.
What is Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security?
The concept of using farming methods to meet the nutritional demands of the planet, without compromising public health, the environment or animal welfare. As outlined by the British Veterinary Association, veterinarians play a key role in advancing status of animals within sustainable agriculture, ensuring that the highest standards of health and welfare for production animals are maintained and recognised.
What are the biggest challenges facing Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security?
I think the magnitude of the issue is quite daunting. The global population is set to reach almost 10 billion by the year 2050 and we need to produce 70% more food than we are currently. To compound matters, a globally growing middle class will demand more protein in their diets.
That being said there is nothing like a challenge to get the attention of the movers and shakers. Until recently farming wasn’t seen as a particularly trendy sector. We are now experiencing an influx of entrepreneurs, investors and innovators, working with industry, government and academia, to develop practical solutions and game changing technologies.
How is Edinburgh working to overcome these challenges?
Edinburgh is home to the largest cluster of animal science researchers in Europe, at the Easter Bush Campus near Roslin. There are over 600 scientists from The Roslin Institute, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Moredun Research Institute carrying out cutting-edge research in animal and public health.
The first mammalian clone, ‘Dolly the Sheep’, was born at the Roslin Institute and cemented the centre’s reputation as a leader in genetics and genomics. The Global Academy of Food Security and Agriculture can be found next door and is an interdisciplinary hub seeking to transform global agri-food systems.
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is recognized for providing world-class veterinary education, research, and clinical services. This month, the R(D)SVS came top of the Times Good University Guide for Veterinary Medicine for the 5th year in a row.
Moredun Research Institute conducts pioneering research on the infectious diseases of livestock, caused by important viruses, bacteria and parasites. Alongside farmers and vets, Moredun strives to improve livestock health and support sustainable agriculture through the development of diagnostic tests and the creation of novel vaccines to combat infectious disease.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) offers comprehensive skills, education and business support for land-based industries, founded on sector-leading research, education and consultancy. The SRUC seeks to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits while providing a strong voice for rural industries.
Neighboring businesses based at the Roslin Innovation Centre, Pentland Science Park and Edinburgh Technopole engage with these research and consultancy centres to develop innovative technologies. Stakeholders in Edinburgh also collaborate with partners throughout Scotland and further afield, as well as across sectors, to ensure the future of sustainable food security and animal health.
As a consultant in the field, what conferences in particular stand-out?
As the topic of sustainable food production and animal health has gathered momentum, the number of related conferences has increased substantially. Ones that particularly stand out includes the Animal Health Investment Europe conference in London and closer to home, the Aquaculture UK event in Aviemore, which promotes Scotland’s Salmon industry.
I’m also excited to announce that stakeholders in Edinburgh are working together on an inaugural conference for next year. ‘A3 2020’ will be Scotland’s premier event for Animal Health, Agritech and Aquaculture, promoting sector investment, innovation and collaboration. This three-day event will take place 29th September to 1st October 2020 and hosted in Edinburgh. More information to follow but be sure pencil it in the diary, connect with me on LinkedIn for the latest announcements.
What inspired you to study and work in Edinburgh?
Being totally honest it was the only Vet School that offered me a place! As a local lad, I was keen to get away and study elsewhere, but in retrospect I’m so grateful to have had the chance to attend the University of Edinburgh as an undergraduate. Being back at the Business School as a postgraduate is understandably a different experience but equally as rewarding. I haven’t quite mastered the art of juggling study on top of work, but I’ve just finished my first year and feel I’ve come a long way already.
There is no doubt that this city will play a key role in the future of sustainable food production and continue to ensure that animal health and welfare are top priority.