Editing a 10-yr research programme proposal

We assisted a consortium of Dutch universities and world-leading plant breeding companies to create a preliminary proposal for a ten-year, €35 million public-private research programme as part of efforts guided by the Dutch Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC).

The proposal responded to a call from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), part of their efforts to support strong, strategy-driven consortia with societal impact.

The research programme, called Plant-XR, plans to create a new generation of plant breeding tools based on an innovative combination of high-throughput plant science and artificial intelligence. The aim is enabling the breeding of plants that are extra resilient (‘xr’) to combinations of outside stresses brought by climate change and sharply reduced use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Creating extra-resilient plants will be key to meeting major global challenges, including providing food security to a growing world population, adapting to climate change and making agriculture systems more sustainable worldwide.

The pre-proposal was selected out of twenty pre-proposals by an NWO-convened multi-disciplinary expert committee and has moved on to the next phase: creating a full proposal in 2022. NWO has set aside €15 million of public funds.

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