Europe faces a multitude of challenges in agriculture in the coming years, including food security, increasing land use and climate change. Plant sciences research has the potential to deliver high-quality food and fuel for a growing population in a secure and sustainable manner, but requires coordination. The ERACAPS (ERA-NET for Coordinating Action in Plant Sciences) project aimed to promote collaboration in plant sciences by coordinating and funding transnational research. Consortium members created a self-sustaining European Research Area Network (ERA-Net) through sharing of best practices, funding sources, information exchange and joint activities. Project members developed close relationships with related organisations, such as the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI) and the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO). A publicly available plant sciences database was also launched to promote collaboration between ERA and international researchers in different countries. A major impact of the project was greater sustainable collaboration and cooperation between Partner and Observer countries and the consortium. The new strategies developed have transformed the way in which funders of plant science and the research community work, through networked researchers exchanging knowledge and the sharing of research facilities. Collaborative research on such a wide scale and with such openness resulted in the development of coherent transnational policies at the regional, national and international level. The importance of bring together the best scientists for relationship building, mutual learning and alignment of plant science research priorities cannot be overestimated. The ERA-CAPS network will provide significant advances towards meeting the challenges facing plant science and the need to deliver high quality, secure and sustainable food, feed and fuel solutions for a growing population.
Plant sciences, transnational research, ERA-NET, European Research Area Network, European Plant Science Organisation, Partner Country, Observer Country