On June 12th and 13th, ERA-CAPS held its first Grant Holders’ Workshop, a meeting aimed at fostering exchanges among scientists and allowing for mutual exchanges with the funders.
The workshop took place at the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research in Rome with 50 delegates in attendance. The event focussed on presentations from ERA-CAPS grant holders, representatives and scientific keynotes.
Because of the open nature of the First ERA-CAPS call that was launched in November 2012, the presented projects covered a very wide range of topics from the influence of temperature on tuberization to a better understanding of Casparian strips and suberin in roots physiology, to the control of plant yield under unpredictable environmental conditions.
Regardless of their fundamental or more applied orientation, all the projects share a clear relevance to societal challenges such as food security, climate change or sustainable use of resources. However, beside this mainstream image of plant science being devoted to feed the world, it was again highlighted that the field brought pioneering contributions to our basic understanding of biological mechanisms.
In the 1960s, such findings led to the so called “green revolution”, a series of technology transfers that greatly improved crop production and food security but dramatically affected the environment and crop diversity. With an ever-growing food demand, the plant science community is now facing the responsibility of repeating the green revolution with less impact on the environment, a goal that could only be achieved by developing crops that make a better use of water and nutrients.
Further subjects related to agriculture that were discussed covered the risks related to the spread of monocultures; the importance of a strong partnership with industry and breeders and on a more general note the project of creating a digital seed bank. In the latter respect, one felt the need to organise the scientific community towards adhering to the same standards for data collection, storage and exchange.
Finally, other than triggering stimulating scientific debates and thought-provoking talks by renowned investigators, this meeting has also been a great opportunity to get feedback from the grant holders about the First ERA-CAPS call implementation and to learn more about the project consortia themselves. In conclusion, this event was fruitful from both scientific and strategic standpoints as it initiated discussion on how ERA-CAPS could optimize its contribution to the field.
The next grant-holders’ workshop is being planned for May 2015 and will be held in Portugal. The exact date will be communicated to grant holders and invited guests in the near future.
The full programme, list of participants and abstracts can be viewed here.
The presentation given during the workshop are all available here.
ERA-CAPS 2014 ©