BioSS works closely with its collaborators and end-users to ensure the relevance of its activities, placing particular emphasis on understanding their upcoming challenges and communicating in a way that enables knowledge transfer and maximises impact.
BioSS delivers knowledge exchange in various forms, including consultancy advice and collaboration, publications and presentations of research, training courses and workshops for scientists, supervision of PhD students, engagement with schools, and communications through the media. It is involved in several co-operative initiatives with its fellow RESAS Main Research Providers (MRPs).
The Centre for Knowledge Exchange and Impact (CKEI) is an expanding programme funded by the Scottish Government, involving all of the RESAS MRPS, which reaches out to policymakers, end-users, and the general public through events, its own website, and funding for KE project calls.
As well as contributing to events led by others, BioSS has taken the initiative of bringing together quantitative scientists from the organisations it works most closely with. The Forum for Quantitative Science (FQS) was created by BioSS in 2010, with support from the Scottish Government, and this biannual conference is attended by staff from CAMERAS partnership organisations and RESAS MRPs. Themes of common interest are chosen with the aims of sharing knowledge and improving links between participants. Guest speakers and presentations by representatives from the attending organisations highlight the wide range of challenging quantitative issues being addressed using diverse and innovative methodologies.
Another important collaborative activity, which BioSS supports, is the Scottish Government-funded Centre of Expertise in Animal Disease Outbreaks (EPIC). BioSS has led a series of workshop events with stakeholders to elicit opinions about the future of the Scottish cattle and sheep industries. Using what is known as a 'scenario planning' framework, farmers, veterinarians, government officials, retail specialists, and representatives of other key stakeholder groups can review the principal drivers of change in the livestock industries, then develop narratives describing plausible 'future histories' for these industries over a 25-year time window. Outputs from these exercises have been collated as reports for a general audience, circulated to major stakeholders as hard copies, and made available to the general public via the EPIC website. The co-construction of these scenarios has proven to be an excellent way to promote knowledge exchange between the EPIC scientists, policy customers, and the wider stakeholder community.
BioSS has interacted with the general public in a variety of ways. Some staff members have visited schools to talk about their interest in quantitative science and the importance of school subjects in the real world. Recently, BioSS contributed to the Rocket Science Experiment carried out in UK schools. BioSS has a STEM Ambassador, who has participated in 'I'm a Scientist Get Me Out of Here' and initiatives of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland. These events aim to inspire young people to take an interest in science and even to consider careers in science. However, BioSS' research reaches its widest audience through the media. By establishing a social media presence, BioSS maintains more immediate contact with its growing cadre of followers.