Strategic alliance between basic and applied research will accelerate breakthroughs in agriculture and the agri-food chain

On 15 January 2016, VIB and the Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research (ILVO) signed a strategic collaboration agreement. This unique alliance brings together two partners with complementary expertise, thereby creating a strong bridge between the research laboratory and the field. VIB will be responsible for basic research and the ILVO will use applied research and field work to study the results in more depth. This combination of forces will mean that scientific discoveries can be translated more rapidly into tangible added value for farmers, society and the environment. The agreement was signed at the ILVO campus in Melle in the presence of Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport.

By 2050, it is estimated that there will be between 9.2 and 10 billion mouths to feed, in circumstances that the acceleration of climate change has rendered increasingly uncertain. Research into better agricultural crops and soils is essential, in order to enable the production of sustainable and healthy food without losing sight of the balance between agriculture and nature in the process.

Vital research clustering

Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport: “As the production of sustainable and healthy food is such a huge challenge, we can only applaud this initiative. Shared expertise and infrastructures, efficiency gains and agricultural research that is more directly linked to specific needs will undoubtedly lead more rapidly to tangible results.”

An alliance from which everyone benefits

Joris Relaes, CEO of the ILVO: “To extract value from the results of basic scientific research faster, we look forward to further collaboration with the VIB. Indeed, in the field of plant research, the VIB is one of the leading research centers in the world. Over time, the scientific and technological synergy between our institutions will create added value not only for Flemish farmers and the Flemish food industry, but also for society, the environment and the Flemish economy.”

A logical and promising step

Johan Cardoen, Managing Director of the VIB: “Translating basic research into applications for medicine and agriculture is an integral part of our role. Thanks to the expertise in applied agriculture and field experiment capacity that the ILVO possesses, this strategic alliance will give the VIB the opportunity to test and extract value from our research results in a practical setting. A strategic collaboration with the ILVO is therefore both promising and highly logical for VIB.”

Dirk Inzé, Director of the Plant Systems Biology Department (VIB/UGent): “We are greatly looking forward to collaborating with the ILVO. Indeed, we are convinced that this will be a case of one plus one making three, and that it will lead to further cementing the international position of both institutions. By offering the entire process, from basic research to practical evaluation, we will become even stronger players both in Europe and globally.”

Five specific cases underline the added value provided by this collaboration:

  1. In search of climate-resilient crops, to guarantee harvest security and optimal quality.
    1. Nathalie Wuyts (VIB/UGent)
    2. Peter Lootens (ILVO)
  2. High quality, health promoting nutritional components in plant-based food, both fresh and prepared.
    Alain Goossens (VIB/UGent)
    Bart Van Droogenbroeck (ILVO)
  3. In, around and from the root! Which soil organisms are beneficial to agricultural crops and how?
    Sofie Goormachtig (VIB/UGent)
    Tine Maes (ILVO)
  4. Two-way traffic in the improvement of crops: from the lab to the field and back!
    Hilde Nelissen (VIB/UGent)
    Isabel Roldán-Ruiz (ILVO)
  5. Allergenic food: towards more accurate detection. And how do the proteins responsible behave during the cooking process?
    Kris Gevaert (VIB/UGent)
    Christof Van Poucke (ILVO)

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