Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC)

The Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC) was established in 2012 to support pre-competitive research of interest to the plant breeding and processing sectors. The club supports the development of new crop varieties with traits that will contribute to overcoming research challenges affecting the use of crops in food production.

CIRC is a partnership between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Scottish Government and a consortium of leading companies. Together the partners committed £7 million to research projects to improve the production and quality of wheat, barley and oilseed rape.

The results from the research are already being used in participating companies. Practical outputs from the projects range from novel tools and methodologies to support breeding programmes though to new insights into the biology that determines crop yields.

A total of 15 research projects and 10 PhD students have been awarded through the Club.

Research challenges

CIRC responds to two research challenges developed in consultation with industry:

  • improving crop productivity- sustainable improvements in crop productivity are important for increasing the volume of food the UK can produce, for limiting the land needed to produce this food and for improving the efficiency with which resources are used in crop production
  • improving crop quality – improving quality can help to improve the processing, safety and nutritional value of crop products while also improving resource use efficiency. By understanding quality traits better there will also be scope for generating greater consistency in quality against a background of variation in growing conditions.

Club members

CIRC has 14 company members who contribute to funding research and help to direct the Club’s activities. CIRC has a total budget of £7.06 million:

  • £560,000 – Industrial membership subscriptions
  • £500,000 – the Scottish Government
  • £6 million – BBSRC.

Industrial members

  • AHDB
  • BASF
  • Campden BRI
  • Elsoms Seeds
  • KWS
  • LG Seeds
  • Monsanto
  • Nabim
  • RAGT Seeds
  • Secobra Recherches
  • Syngenta
  • The Scotch Whisky Research Institute
  • United Oilseeds
  • Velcourt


External contact

Jayne Brookman, CIRC Coordinator
Telephone: 07957 543753

Simon Bright, CIRC Coordinator
Telephone: 07973 215750

BBSRC contact

James Phillips
Telephone: 01793 442149

Last updated: 12 September 2023

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