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Teaming to Upgrade Excellence in Environmental Biology, Ecosystem Research and AgroBiodiversity

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIOPOLIS (Teaming to Upgrade Excellence in Environmental Biology, Ecosystem Research and AgroBiodiversity)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

The overall and long-term goal of BIOPOLIS proposal is to upgrade ICETA-CIBIO (Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources), a Research Unit in the field of biological sciences from a low-performing Member State
(Portugal), to a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for R&D&I in Basic and Environmental Biology, Ecosystem Monitoring and AgroBiodiversity, through the TEAMING with Porto Business School (PBS) and the University of Montpellier
(UM), an institution of research and innovation excellence from an advanced performing Member State (France).
The proposal builds on a formal working relationship between ICETA-CIBIO and UM. Based on these previous achievements and collaboration experience, ICETA-CIBIO, PBS and UM produced in this TEAMING phase 1 proposal a consistent and streamlined work program to prepare the operational plans
for BIOPOLIS.
The funding provided to our BIOPOLIS during Teaming Phase 1 enabled us to consolidate our vision for an upgrade of CIBIO to a state-of-the-art centre in the environmental monitoring, biodiversity and agriculture sciences.
The BIOPOLIS CSA project work plan consisted of 7 work packages focused on different aspects of project development. They were designed to achieve the overall project objective of developing a robust business plan for the upgraded CoE.
In this regard, promotion and dissemination of the project was achieved through the BIOPOLIS website, and through engagement on the online social networking sites, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
Starting from the very beginning of the project, BIOPOLIS partners have focused their efforts in establishing the contacts and subsequent organization of face-to-face meetings in order to present BIOPOLIS project to industry, entrepreneurs, government agencies, including local authorities,
national authorities and decision makers, as well as other players in order to establish strategic partnerships and secure funding from public and private investors.
Most of these meetings were then focused on reinforcing and expanding the program of Invited Chairs that CIBIO has with major national companies. Each of these Invited Chairs is associated with the financing of a 5-years project and the hiring of a renowned researcher for its leadership.
By the end of phase1 it was possible to increase the current three Invited Chairs that CIBIO holds with major companies to ten.
The establishment of the Corporate Affiliate Program was also a way to come closer to both industry and administration stakeholders, so as to increase impact of the CoE in society, while achieving its sustainability on the long-term.
The definition of the Research Program sets the time plan to implement the main research lines within the three strategic research pillars, envisaging to address the H2020 societal challenges previously identified and the national and regional smart specialization strategies.
The Centre´s Financial Plan focuses on all the financial aspects related to the Centre’s implementation, revenues, funding and operating costs.
The CoE Implementation Plan contains a detailed plan of actions that are necessary for the installation and implementation of the CoE.
The main result of the project is the Business Plan to be exploited in the Phase 2 Teaming project. This Business Plan demonstrates a sustainable and unique opportunity to create a Centre of Excellence with of the scientific excellence of CIBIO and the top-notch partnership with University of Montpelier and Porto Business School.
Both ICETA-CIBIO and UM have gained international scientific prestige in the fields of Environmental and Biodiversity Sciences, and possess the critical mass to promote the much-needed modernization of these sectors,
as well as to tackle major societal challenges by bringing together environment, forestry and agriculture for rural development and sustainability in general.
BIOPOLIS will strongly contribute to the expected impacts set out in the work programme, under the TEAMING program topic:
i. Sustainable increasing of the R&D&I excellency in agriculture, environment and biodiversity by teaming with UM. The exchanging of people and knowledge will expand the development and implementation of new research approaches and results.
ii. Increased attractiveness of the institution, regions and country for internationally excellent and mobile researchers. BIOPOLIS will greatly enlarge the attractiveness of ICETA-CIBIO for top level researchers, thereby contributing for the overall attractiveness of the country and specific underdeveloped regions (Norte and Alentejo). This will help lure both the young and the well-established Portuguese researchers and mitigate the impact of brain-drainage at the Portuguese the scientific tissue.
iii. Fostering of a greater number of partnerships with the private economic sector, as a result of more frequent interactions and mutual trust between the ICETA-CIBIO, the agriculture, environment and
biodiversity business players.
iv. Improved capability to successfully compete for internationally competitive research funding. The increase of visibility of ICETA-CIBIO’s headquarters and poles will promote their attractiveness to joint
consortia of European excellence centres, by building capacity in terms of preparing applications and managing projects, and by contributing to deploy of a reference lab of international prestige that can act as a
vehicle to attract new collaborations.
v. Changes in the extant policies and practices for an open recruitment policy, gender balance, peer review, and doctoral training. The project will help consolidating the best practice in Europe, which will then be used as the standard recruitment
procedure in the centre.
vi. Contributing to the objectives of regional or national smart specialisation strategies. BIOPOLIS is well aligned and highly synergistic with the priorities defined as part of the smart specialization strategy at both
the regional (including NUTS II Norte and Alentejo) and national levels. The project will increase the capacity of ICETA-CIBIO to address several priority topics identified in the smart specialization strategies, mainly
those requiring competences in areas such as biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services, and environmental (bio)monitoring, agrodiversity and conservation, heritage and tourism.
vii. Conveying cutting edge technology for nation-wide Research and Education. This project proposes to open an interface office to help integrate, nation-wide, these new technologies in research and education. This installation will attract the interest of many players involved in science,
education, companies that are interested in such infrastructure and expertise.
viii. Contribution to ensure stability and sustainability of the agro-systems environment. By providing more accurate indicators for biodiversity and inform decision-making bodies and to private companies
in the assessment, minimization and compensation of the environmental impacts of infra-structure development.
ix. Sustainability of the measures beyond the project lifetime. The engagement with enterprises and other public and private entities in the areas of ecological inventory and monitoring, biodiversity management and
conservation with special interest for agricultural and game management, environmental impact assessment and natural resources valorisation, will assure the sustainability of BIOPOLIS and help guide its applied
research.
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