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About 40% of global crop production is lost annually due to pests and diseases. The scenario will worsen when currently used phyto-pharmaceuticals are removed from the market, according to EU plans. Changing climate is further restricting plant productivity and affecting the migration and severity of pests and diseases.

InnovPlantProtect Collaborative Laboratory (CoLAB), a private non-profit association promoted by Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, was created with the aim to tackle these challenges. The partnership between Academia and Industry will develop new and effective protection solutions for specific targets of Mediterranean interest (among cereals, fruit trees or horticultural crops) with associated Intellectual Property for licensing. The resulting and relevant knowledge about the specific targets will also be used to implement service-providing solutions and generate revenues. Risk and pesticide application models will be developed and implemented for the specific targets and methods for pest monitoring/diagnosis, including early detection and forecasting.

From a global point-of-view, the most important impact of InnovPlantProtect is the innovation in a field of enormous agronomic, economic and social impact. By combining emerging molecular, monitoring and modelling techniques with the increasing knowledge of genomics, new solutions will be designed to provide targeted protection in specific crops, reducing losses and contributing for increased yields in a frame of environmental responsibility. Additionally to the production of new bio-pesticides (pesticides of biological nature), the CoLAB will implement a competence unit for risk modelling based on collected data for pest monitoring and diagnosis, using a variety of technologies including cyber-physical systems, robotics/drones, sensors, and artificial intelligence. The CoLAB will also develop new formulations and matrices for the controlled application and delivery of biopesticides.

The CoLAB is located at the INIAV breeding centre in Elvas, in the Portuguese region of Alentejo. The setting in Elvas will help to densify the country, revitalizing the Elvas breeding centre and strengthening links with local bodies. It will help to establish the region and Alentejo as a breeding ground for research, providing qualified jobs and helping to attract investors.

The InnovPlantProtect CoLAB project was led by the research Unit GREEN-IT Bioresources for Sustainability, and is a joint effort of 4 organic Units of NOVA (ITQB NOVAFCT NOVANOVA IMS and NOVA SBE), INIAV, the Municipality of Elvas, two major multinational companies (Bayer CropScienceSyngenta Crop Protection), an SME (Fertiprado), an agro-biotech research Centre in Beja (CEBAL), 4 farmer/industrial Associations covering a wide variety of plants (Associação Nacional de Produtores de Milho e SorgoCasa do ArrozFederação Nacional das Organizações de Produtores de Frutas e Hortícolas and Associação Nacional de Produtores de Proteaginosas, Oleaginosas e Cereais) and Universidade de Évora. The title of CoLAB  is attributed by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.




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