Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


BIGWHEAT Report Summary

Project ID: 672990

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIGWHEAT (An innovative approach to boost wheat yields)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2015-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The main objective of BigWheat project is to place a new products and related services on international market that will be applicable in international wheat breeding R&D and business sectors of both private and public seed companies. This approach directly contributes to the broadening of wheat genetic diversity, without which breeding cannot be successfully conducted, especially for the wide range of European agro climatic conditions. Desirable novel gene recombinants in wheat will offer new opportunities for further yield improvement, in order to overcome the problem of stagnating yields which pestered the production over the last 20 years and provide a sustainable supply of wheat, as a strategic raw material, in the coming decades. Presently, many international seed companies focus their attention on the new EU and non-EU wheat markets in Southern and Eastern Europe, Russian federation, former Soviet Republics, as well as on the very promising Middle East markets such as Turkey and Iran. Most of these companies do not have adapted genetic materials for millions of hectares in these regions while it is very expensive and time consuming to develop new varieties starting from scratch - by creating de novo desirable wheat genetic variability. BigWheat offers a part of the solution for them as well as for many other smaller companies. Application potential of the concept is outstanding since due to complexity of the wheat genome and many genetic recombination events which occur during hybridization and the first two generations of growing, it is practically impossible for different customers to select the same genetic material in consequent wheat breeding generations. This is important since the potential customers will not be competitors when buying our crosses, but they will be competitors in how these crosses are exploited. This is a desirable and positive market advantage for future commercialization, enabling sales of a single product and/or service to estimated 1,000 wheat breeding programs in EU and worldwide. Biogranum has full technical capacity to run the project. Personnel possess all necessary expertise needed, and the equipment is adequate.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

TASK 1. VALIDATION OF THE CONCEPT: In order to validate the BigWheat concept Biogranum produced a total of 2,500 crosses so far, using the most promising parents from the existing collections, proving the targeted number of crosses is achievable. It is concluded that the capacity for production of crosses can be significantly increased and Biogranum can produce up to 7,000 crosses annually. In order to examine the competition and competing solutions together with user demands and willingness to purchase innovative products and services, Biogranum performed various activities, including person to person contacts with key potential customers, e-mail campaigns, and a questionnaire/survey posted on the company web site. Conclusion drawn from all interactions with individuals from both private and public breeding and seed companies is that BigWheat product represents a brand new idea on the market and there is a great need for novel wheat genetic variability in both breeding and seed industry sectors. Biogranum is convinced that presently there are no comparable wheat crosses selling commercial solutions available at EU and world markets.
TASK 2. TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY: Technical feasibility covered a detailed analysis of the production process with identification of five milestones in project realization: field preparation and planting, nursing I, crossing, nursing II and harvest, trashing and packaging. In its essence the concept requires skilled personnel through the whole production process, not only during crossing, but in all other stages. To find the best possible location, Biogranum placed production on three geographically distinct locations, and determined the most appropriate one for production. There are two types of equipment needed for realization of the project excellence - basic agricultural machinery and specialized machines for breeding purposes. Biogranum already has access to both. Weather conditions can be a major threat to the production process, but with vast experience of Biogranum experts, such threats are anticipated and possible solutions are defined. Crossing stage is the most sensitive and crucial stage of the production process. Biogranum employees, together with several available technicians who can be employed during the crossing stage, ensure hybridization can be successfully completed. The technology used is able to comprehensively fulfill the intended production potentials, and assure project excellence. Diverse wheat collection comprised of more than 3000 wheat genotypes provides new possibilities for Biogranum to choose the best resources for further improvement of this concept. In further stages of the project it will be necessary to employ additional management and administrative workers in order to fully meet technology, finance, IPR and marketing challenges. Storage capacities are sufficient in this moment, but additional infrastructure investment is needed to provide an appropriate facility for preserving the long-term seed viability of both produced crosses and wheat genetic resources.
TASK 3. FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY: Biogranum conducted a financial analysis including start-up and available capital, identification of sources of finance, production and operating costs, prices of products and services, payback period and cash flow estimation, economic impact regarding potential for job creation, salaries of employees and sourcing local suppliers. Conclusion is that prospect for stable and continuous financing of BigWheat project is good, however until stable revenue streams are established, some challenges exist. Our assumption from the initial BigWheat proposal, that the investment will be returned in two years while Biogranum will make profit in the third year of the project, is fully confirmed by the feasibility study.
TASK 4. SWOT ANALYSIS: Based on SWOT analysis it is clear Biogranum has to challenge financial sustainability, improve brand visibility and promote its advantages compared to

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Numerous encounters with potential customers and discussions about BigWheat lead us to believe that there is not only an enormous demand for wheat crosses with heterosis, but also for novel wheat crosses production, valued for its genetic variability, and also for providing cross breeding as a service to breeding sector worldwide. In accordance, we expanded the BigWheat idea into a new business platform called ""Wheat Of Change"" (WOC), that rests on three main pillars: BWH (BigWheat heterosis) – the search for heterosis; G4G (Grain for gain) – enhancing winter cereal yields by introduction of novel genetic variability; CCB (cereals cross breeding) – cross breeding by order. Even though breeding and production in Serbia is a low cost process compared to western Europe and can present a blow to the competition, one of the greatest advantages of WOC platform is the time saving component. Our competitors are actually our intended customers, so it is not our intent to put our competitors out of business, but to help them evolve their breeding programs and improve the genetic variability of their material. The intention of Biogranum is to become European leading supplier of this product and services thus enabling significant local employment. Biogranum can reach up to 30 employees in next 4-6 years. The huge economic impact on local level can be achieved, especially for the developing countries like Serbia. BigWheat project will stimulate local economy and will contribute to EU agricultural, industrial, economic and social prosperity."

Related information

Record Number: 186409 / Last updated on: 2016-07-11