Speeding up the pipeline for resilient crops

We assisted a consortium of universities in the Netherlands in creating a comprehensive proposal for a national public investment in CROP-XR, a new virtual institute that will help Dutch plant scientists and breeders to develop innovative starting materials for extra-resilient (‘xr’) agricultural and horticultural crops.

Large-scale development of resilient crop cultivars will enable farmers worldwide to grow crops that are better suited for future conditions including changing climates and government regulations that will increasingly curb the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Creating extra-resilient crops is 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.

Strengthening and speeding up the development pipeline for such innovative breeding materials will also reaffirm and reinforce the leading position of Dutch plant breeding, agriculture and horticulture internationally for decades to come.

National Growth Fund

The comprehensive, 80+-page proposal made the scientific, societal and macro-economic case for a substantial private investment. It was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Safety (LNV) and submitted for selection by a committee that advises the Dutch government on spending its €20 billion National Growth Fund.

The proposal sought an investment of €40 million to complement Plant-XR, a €35 million 10-yr public-private research programme proposal already under consideration by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). That programme sets out to first develop a new generation of plant breeding tools based on combining and integrating high-throughput experimental plant sciences and artificial intelligence research.

The added investments would strengthen the ability of the entire plant breeding innovation ecosystem in the Netherlands to capitalize on Plant-XR’s outcomes by building shared infrastructures for data storage and analysis, supporting dedicated efforts in education and human capital, and carrying out stakeholder interaction and building public relations.

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