Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PlantaSYST (Establishment of a Center of Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology for the translation of fundamental research into sustainable bio-based technologies in Bulgaria)
Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31
The overall objective of PlantaSYST is to establish a Center of Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology (CPSBB) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The CPSBB will stand at the forefront of plant sciences by integrating molecular biology, functional genomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, and long-standing expertise in practical plant genetics and breeding, to unravel the plant biology and translating the scientific knowledge into new horticultural and industrial applications. Partners in PlantaSYST are three research institutes in Plovdiv (Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Maritsa Vegetable Crops Researh Institute, Institute of Microbiology – Laboratory of Applied Microbiology) and two research entities located in the Science Park Potsdam-Golm, Germany (University of Potsdam and Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology). The newly established CPSBB will fill in the scientific and technological gaps identified in the Smart Specialization Strategy of Bulgaria and will take a leading role in educating next-generation early-stage researchers in the fields of molecular breeding, plant systems biology and biotechnology. The specific objectives of the CPSBB are: Highest research quality and productivity in the fields of plant systems biology and biotechnology; New products for the European market (technologies for plant breeding, new high yield vegetable varieties resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses, cultivars of vegetable crops with improved nutritionalyield stability and processing qualities as well asand nutritional, harvesting or processing qualities, and plant-derived products with new pharmaceutical properties for innovative applications in medicine); Retaining and re-gaining the best specialists in the fields of plant science and bioinformatics; Establishing an excellent service-orientated management structure, effective innovation management, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) mechanisms; Bringing sectors together (policy, science, industry) for social and economic development and serving as link between the academia and industry in Plovdiv. The objective of the one-year CSA is to develop a solid and comprehensive Business Plan for the establishment of the CPSBB.
During the one-year CSA period, the new CPSBB was successfully established as a legal entity in the Court of Plovdiv. The PlantaSYST consortium and the CPSBB has attracted support from the Bulgarian Government (promised co-funding for state-of-the-art scientific equipment and construction of a new building), the local authorities in Plovdiv (donation of a land for the CPSBB campus and regional infrastructure development), the German Federal Government (Project Plant-INNO from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research), as well as from many biotechnological companies and academic institutions. Milestone documents adopted by the PlantaSYST consortium, such as the analysis of the environment, feasibility studies, and business model development, have served as a basis for the development of a comprehensive business plan that shows the feasibility and sustainability of the CPSBB.
The project PlantaSYST has advanced further as the new CPSBB is now established, functional, and productive. The first CPSBB scientific papers were published in the first half of 2016. With the financial assistance of EU and the Bulgarian Government, it is expected that the CPSBB will unfold its full potential in 2017. The broad support from academic and business communities, policy makers, and general public indicates that the CPSBB is likely to have a profound impact on the scientific, economic, and social development of Plovdiv and Bulgaria.