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Strengthening the University of Plovdiv Research Potential in Plant Systems Biology and Food Biotechnology

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Advancing Bulgarian research capacity

The University of Plovdiv – Faculty of Biology (UoP-FoB) in Bulgaria is known for its research in the area of plant systems biology, food testing and biotechnology. By enhancing their research capacity, the institution will continue to be competitive.

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Besides infrastructural upgrades, members of the EU-funded BIOSUPPORT project focused on developing the skills of Bulgarian researchers and increasing the visibility of UoP-FoB. Project activities supported the training of 122 Bulgarian researchers at top-notch European laboratories and three experienced European researchers were seconded to UoP. 15 Bulgarian scientists also worked in other European research institutes. Besides promoting researcher mobility, such measures improved the knowledge base of Bulgarian researchers in relevant areas and attracted urgently needed skilled talent to UoP. Training covered topics such as metabolomics, confocal and atomic force microscopy, chromatography and mass spectrometry. For more rounded experience, researchers also collaborated with small- and medium-sized industries (SMEs) and international research groups. Purchase of new state-of-the-art equipment led to the organisation of eight new laboratories. In particular, the laboratory for atomic force microscopy is unique to UoP and other Bulgarian research institutes. Such infrastructural upgrades will ensure that research on plant systems biology and food biotechnology will be of high calibre. Participation of researchers in 15 international conferences as invited speakers, seminars, three workshops and two widely attended research conferences in Bulgaria increased UoP visibility. Other dissemination activities included videos, the project website and several publications. The BIOSUPPORT project led to the formation and strengthening of research partnerships with other research groups as well as industry. This gave rise to the development and registration of several patents, several technology transfers and formation of spin-off SMEs. UoP now has a consolidated and more efficient research structure and capacity. This makes it more attractive to other research institutes and SMEs when it comes to partnering in research. The technology and knowledge engendered by UoP will benefit the Bulgarian region as well as Europe and increase employment opportunities in the food sciences and biotechnology sectors.

Keywords

Plant systems biology, food testing, biotechnology, research capacity, infrastructural upgrade, training, mobility, laboratories, patent, technology transfer

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