Swine Research: Are the Risks Worth The Rewards?

02:11PM Sep 16, 2019
Dr. Terry Coffey with Smithfield Foods
( Jennifer Shike )

The pace of change is accelerating, especially in food and protein production. Research and technology will continue to drive enhancements in this area, said Terry Coffey, chief science and technology officer with Smithfield Foods during the Morrison Lectureship at the 2019 Leman Swine Conference.

“New opportunities will require a willingness to collaborate and an openness to new ideas and a culture that allows/rewards risk,” he said.

Modern production systems across the pork value chain require a well-organized, objective and systematic approach toward research and development. This allows them to evaluate and successfully implement new technologies in order to efficiently deliver safe food in a sustainable manner for a growing world population, Coffey said.

“Complex challenges are rarely solved with a single experiment or trial. New technology innovations require long-term commitment, a willingness to collaborate and risk tolerance,” he said.

When it comes to using internal research and innovation to enhance value in a business, it’s important to consider how to manage the risks and rewards of research. 

“You need to create a culture that allows people to try and fail, but you also need a general expectation that you’ll have more successes than failures,” Coffey said.

Here are four things to consider when it comes to evaluating the risks and rewards of research.

1.    Information and data come at a cost. 
“We have to invest money into obtaining information and data,” Coffey said. Linking good data from performance and outcomes is important in order to understand the value it could provide.

2.    Organizational expectations that benefits exceed cost. 
Determine the appetite or allowance for risk in your business, Coffey said. 

3.    All experiments will not result in a product or process implementation, and every innovation effort will not result in a new technology being successfully developed.
In order to manage this concept, realize there are some things that won’t turn out successfully. “But nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he added.

4.    A sound research program should employ an organized approach to manage risk and to focus on “high value” outcomes.

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