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Plant biotechnology is key to sustainability and productivity of the agri-food sector

Wed 13/07/2022 by Richard Wilkinson

On June 29, BIOVEGEN (the technological platform for plant biotechnology) held a session titled “Technologies and opportunities in the agro-biotechnology sector” in a hybrid format (face-to-face at the CEOE-Madrid headquarters, and virtually).

Francisco Marín, vice-president of the CEOE R&D&i Commission, stressed the need for greater investment in R&D&i in Spain: “We are awaiting big changes, and we are dragging our feet along a not very positive trajectory; Spain is 11th in the ranking of scientific production and 30th in the ranking of innovation. It is necessary to cut this gap.” However, he also presented a positive outlook, highlighting the approval of new laws that allow increased investment in R & D: “We are on the right path, with strong growth in public investment, regulatory growth and a very important variety of regulations in the market.”

The intervention of José Pellicer, president of BIOVEGEN, focused on the exponential growth of science and the value that this will mean for companies: “It is necessary to deepen our involvement with science.” In addition, he highlighted the importance of BIOVEGEN in the sector as “the fundamental actor for putting science in contact with business”, and the need for science-business forums: “Research centres need to be heard to facilitate contact with companies.”

Esther Esteban, director of INIA-CSIC, reflected on the great agri-food crises that exist today: “We no longer know what a normal year of agricultural production is. There are no longer normal years so it is difficult to guarantee sufficient and safe food every year.” At the same time, he highlighted the importance of innovation as a tool to overcome challenges: “Science and innovation provide solutions to crises, such as new plant breeding techniques. We must be more open to listen and see how we can improve.”

The session was co-organised by BIOVEGEN and CEOE with the collaboration of the companies VECTOR HORIZONTE, AGRENVEC and BIORIZON BIOTECH. It addressed the potential and applications of plant biotechnology as a key tool to enhance the sustainability and productivity of the agri-food sector. Financing opportunities for R&D&i in the agri-food sector and the possibilities of participating at FRUIT ATTRACTION 2022 (specifically in the BIOTECH ATTRACTION area: the plant innovation hub) were also analysed, thus covering all key axes of the sector.

The session was intended to bring together science, business and administration to show the progress and existing needs in plant innovation, and generate public-private partnerships. The event had more than 170 attendees from 160 entities, of which 45 were in person; 91 companies, 54 research organisations and 21 associations, foundations and representatives of the Public Administration, thus bringing together all the actors in plant innovation.

 

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