Mylnefield Research Services, the commercial wing of the James Hutton Institute’s Invergowrie-based operations, has recorded its highest turnover to date in its accounts to the end of March 2014.
It is a record that will not be beaten because these will be the last set of accounts from MRS.
Its role as a commercial subsidiary goes back to the 1990s when it was created to maximise income from the agricultural research carried out by JHI predecessor body, The Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), but it has now been replaced by a new subsidiary which will be known as James Hutton Ltd. This new body will also replace Macaulay Scientific Consulting which was the commercial wing for the Aberdeen-based divisions of JHI.
The MRS record turnover amounted to £4.379million and is a 40% improvement on the figure for a year earlier.
The operating profit was £523,000 compared to £475,000 in 2012-13 and allowed MRS to gift aid £400,000 to JHI to help fund its scientific work.
Shareholders funds increased by £136,000 and stood at £1.151million at the end of the financial year,
Contract research income remained the biggest earner with a 65% increase over the previous year, according to managing director Nigel Kerby.
Contracts worth about £2.5million were undertaken throughout the year with two major contracts in the area of crop protection and nutrition and potato research and development largely accounting for the year-on-year improvement.
Contract plant breeding, especially for soft fruit and potatoes features strongly in the MRS portfolio.
Where varieties are licensed in MRS’s own name this leads to substantial royalty income.
The 2013/14 income from these sources was also a record at £565,230 and exceeded the half-million pound mark for the first time. The number one and number two earners are the raspberry varieties, Glen Lyon and Glen Ample, followed by the Blackberry variety Loch Ness and the strawberry variety Symphony.
Glen Lyon is largely outdated as a raspberry variety in the UK but is popular in Spain.
As a demonstration of the international reach of plant variety rights, Mr Kerby’s report highlights the granting of rights for the Glen Ample raspberry variety in Canada. Applications have also been lodged for two older potato varieties – Mayan Gold in Belarus and Lady Balfour in Lebanon.
One area which has seen decline in activity is lipid analysis which has dropped 6% to stand at £388,745.
“There are several reasons for this including recent reports that suggest Omega 3 fatty acids may not help protect against coronary artery disease and may result in an increased risk of prostate cancer. These adverse claims have resulted in decreased sales of Omega 3 nutritional supplements and consequently a lower demand for the services of Mylnfield Lipid Analysis (MLA),” said Mr Kerby.
“To counter this potential downturn we have been concentrating on growing our business in the pharmaceutical sector,” he added.
Mr Kerby is due to stand down from Mylnefield this spring after 23 years in post.