Brussels, 09 Feb 2006
The EU-funded Plant Genomics ERA-NET (ERA-PG) has launched a call for proposals based on a joint investment of some 30 million euro by funding organisations across 11 European countries.
The call is designed to support the wider objectives of the ERA-PG network, namely building links between leading research teams and boosting the overall competitiveness of plant genomics in Europe.
Paul Beckers, coordinator of the call for the ERA-PG secretariat, told CORDIS News: 'This is the first attempt to harmonise the national plant genomics programmes of 11 countries' ? Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the UK.
Building a consensus was no straightforward task, Mr Beckers explained. Research priorities in northern Europe were sometimes very different from those in southern Europe, for example, and getting 11 countries to commit financially to the same priorities was a challenge. As a result, the topics covered in the call are quite broad, he says, but the novel application of genomics tools to plant science is the common theme.
Research themes include genomic research into the development of high value crops, non-food uses for crops such as biofuels and biodegradable packaging materials, bioproduction of therapeutics, and quality traits associated with food storage and processability.
While most projects should involve partners from at least three participating countries, Mr Beckers revealed that 'there is no common pot of funding for the calls. Once the projects are selected the teams then go back to the funding bodies in their own country. We hope that the second call might take a further step towards central funding though.'
With the central ERA-PG secretariat gathering information on all the participating teams and coordinating their activities, it hopes to develop a strong knowledge base for future calls and activities. Preparations for a second joint call are expected to get underway shortly. 'For now, we are just looking forward to receiving some good proposals for the first call,' Mr Beckers concluded.