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Periodic Report Summary 1 - IDP BRIDGES (IDP Bridging Plant Science and Policy)

IDP BRIDGES is an Innovative Doctoral Programme ( supporting 14 PhD students working in two thematic areas: “Maintaining plant production for food through the advanced use of technologies” / “Ensuring sustainable land use and environmental protection”, funded by the SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME (FP7) Marie Curie Actions – People, Initial Training Networks (ITN): PITN-GA-2013-608422- Acronym: IDP BRIDGES. The Programme is centrally managed by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC), a competence center of three Swiss universities, the University of Zurich, the University of Basel and the ETH Zurich. The ETH Zurich acts as the coordinator of IDP BRIDGES under leadership of Prof. Zeeman (WP: research), Dr. Paschke (WP: programme management, training), Dr. Dahinden (WP: dissemination). IDP BRIDGES includes 17 Associated Partners (AP) based in 4 EU Member States and 8 Third Countries: Centro Regional de Estudios en Alimentos Saludables, CL; University of Witwatersrand, SA; Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FiBL, CH; Agroscope Reckenholz, CH; PSI, CZ; Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, ET; University of Bern, CH; Arhus University, DK; Princeton University, USA; ATREE, India; Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN; Swiss Biodiversity Forum, CH; Federal Office for Agriculture, CH; CAMBIA, AU; University of Adelaide, AU; Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences, FR; European Molecular Biology Organisation, GE; FESTEL CAPITAL, CH.

IDP BRIDGES offers a world-class and unique training curriculum at the interface of science and policy combined with research environments in plant sciences at world-leading universities. The research projects are addressing research questions in the area of plant sciences with implications for policy and practice. All ESRs are jointly supervised by at least two supervisors based in at least two different organisations, one from the plant sciences and one from an organisation at the interface of policy-implementation. A novel training scheme generates researchers with a unique skill set. ESRs will be ready for:
(*) Balancing the rigorous scientific process and evidence-based policy making with the participatory and consensus-focused processes of policy dialogue,
(*) Reflecting on societal and personal values behind the scientific process,
(*) Observing and valuing societal demands and perception as part of the dialogue and engaging with stakeholders.

TRANSITION 1: The ESRs participate in the European unique PhD Programme Science and Policy (12 ECTS) and have access to network-wide Policy Training for understanding the processes of generating policy relevance and policy impact. In combination with the large number of transferable skill courses offered by the existing PSC training programmes and the specialized methodological training offered in the context of the research groups and at the APs, ESRs can develop their individual skill matrix.
TRANSITION 2: Tandem supervision of the ESRs by representatives of policy-implementing organizations facilitates the transfer of research results in policy outcomes that are pe-defined by the policy organisations. They range from fact sheets, policy briefs to stakeholder workshops. Targeted secondments at the AP further broaden the scope of the PhDs, allowing students to experience a policy environment.
Integrated mentoring schemes facilitate the ESRs development in transition phase I and II.


(*) An analysis on training needs was carried out to match needs with the existing offer and revealed that the training is highly focused on the existing demands of the fellows (M12)
(*) 15 IDP-wide training activities were carried out including 5 policy courses and the summer school “Tackling with Wicked Problems (M23), Woman in Science workshop (M18), 3 group mentoring: Starting your own Business / Science and Policy Interface in Industry (M12) Work-Life Balance (M18); Working at the Science-Policy Interface (M24)
(*) Evaluation: participants are very much satisfied with the curriculum, the organization of the programme, their supervision and the offered training.
(*) ESR have established a network of 35+ contacts to international experts in both fields plant sciences and policy; for all projects the collaborations with the AP has successfully started.

(*) 10 from 14 IDB Bridges projects have fully completed their research milestones as laid out in Annex I, B4.2.; In 4 projects fellows presented well-reasoned adjustments.
(*) Together all scientific results are very promising and already resulted in 6 papers submitted or in preparation.

(*) 2 ESR have carried out their secondment completely, 4 partly.
(*) Those 6 fellows who carried out secondment periods mentioned that their secondment ”… represent a great opportunity to directly experience a working environment besides academia and to have contacts with people who have moved from academia to the industry.” (ESR 5). It enabled them to get insight into new organisations, improve networks, and get to know new technologies (ESR 5,6). They could improve skill such as data analysis and new collaboration, for example to jointly produce and process scientific article has been mentioned (ESR6,8) and the skill to translate scientific results into outcomes at the science-policy or science-innovation interface (ESR 5). The secondment also enables exclusive access to the useful resources required for the projects such as plant material or genomic databases (ESR 6,8).

(*) ESR 7: the technique could be used for breeding and the researchers have consulted a patent agency.

IDP BRIDGES operates through a centrally managed dissemination and outreach strategy to make the research and research outcomes maximally visible at the science-policy interface as well as to the public. Dissemination of scientific results: Translated and integrated into internal policy channels of APs using their knowledge to implement them in the policy-making process. Despite most dissemination activities are planned after M24, some scientific results have already been translated:
(*) ESR 10: Annual research-related participatory workshops with local stakeholders, forest officials and policy makers (India) (M17); ESR 11: Guided tours and interviews with forest visitors and explanatory leaflets for visitors of experiment (M22).
(*) 17 presentations at national or international conferences.
(*) IDP BRIDGES website is in place since M5.

(*) Co-organisation of the conference “Symposium on Participatory Research to foster, Innovation in Agriculture” together with Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, FIBL, Switzerland (M10)
(*) 3 issues of the IDP BRIDGES Newsletter (M8, M15, M26)
(*) 11 ESRs participated with their research in science fairs organized by the HOs (M6 to M24), especially in the Scientifica science fair at ETH (two experiments with 700-1000 visitors).
(*) 2 public round tables were organised by 5 fellows with 80+ participants: “Plant Sciences, Patents and Food Security” (M24), “Science in policy on the use of systemic pesticides” (M13).

(*) Striving for research excellence - By drawing upon the research base and training capacity of world leading universities and promoting a high level of interaction and transnational mobility, ESRs are able to access state of the art know-how and facilities.
(*) Diminishing barriers and establishing networks between ESRs and "gatekeepers" in the policy-implementing process. IDP BRIDGES is allowing ESRs to access large international and inter-sectorial networks at the science-policy interface and exploiting their research outcomes in terms of policy relevance together with the AP..
(*) Unique Training - hands-on experience with the following processes and related skills at the science-policy interface : (1) Understanding the policy cycle (2) Recognition of the importance of policy making to research and the importance of research to policy making (3) Communication of findings in a policy friendly format (4) Dialogue with the public, policy makers, government and other key stakeholder; and (5) Production of research that can add to evidence-based policies and an improved uptake of sciences by policy-implementers.
(*) Advancing higher education and career chances of young plant scientists.

IDP BRIDGES combines plant sciences and policy work because scientific progress requires not only specialization – which is usually provided within the context of a research group – but also the ability to interact and collaborate with other disciplines and with our society. Our young scientists are mentored and trained in this role as early as the PhD stage.

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