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IRRI launches Bio-Innovation Center with new Bioseed research partnership

During a virtual launch on June 3, 2021, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) introduced its latest model for collaborative agricultural research through its new Bio-Innovation Center (BIC) initiative, and announced that its inaugural research program will be with the hybrid seed company Bioseed, a subsidiary of Indian conglomerate DCM Shriram.

Global food and nutrition security face many challenges, especially for regions in the developing world. This includes rapidly growing populations, scarcity and competition for natural resources, and the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture. Key research, development, and innovation need to be accelerated so that we can make our food systems more productive, efficient, resilient, and sustainable.

The Bio-Innovation Center is a new initiative by IRRI that brings together people, expertise, and resources to develop solutions for our most pressing global challenges. BIC is a membership-based program that enables private and public sector partners around the world to leverage IRRI's world-class research infrastructure, scientific expertise, and other resources for the development and scaling up of their research products and innovations.

“The Bio-Innovation Center offers research partnerships, service partnerships, and resource sharing partnerships with public, private, and research institutes,” said Dr. Gururaj Kulkarni, the Director of BIC as well as the IRRI Global Head of Research Infrastructure and Regulatory Compliance. “Through BIC, our members can develop their own sui generis research programs that will be supported by IRRI’s extensive capital resources. This can include mentorship and training of their people by IRRI scientists, use of IRRI equipment and facilities like labs and fields, and access to an array of business and technical support services that can stimulate entrepreneurial and commercial development.  

With this initiative, BIC can accelerate Research 4 Development for our members and help them fast-track upstream research to downstream customers. BIC marks an exciting new level of collaboration between IRRI and its partners in agricultural research, as we integrate and leverage each other’s strengths, resources, and capabilities to advance innovative research and technologies that will ultimately benefit farmers and consumers around the world,” added Dr. Kulkarni. 

Also announced during the online launch was that Bioseed Research Philippines is the first member of the BIC initiative. Bioseed has operations in the Philippines, Vietnam, India, and Thailand, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DCM Shriram Ltd., one of the largest business conglomerates in India. Bioseed Research Philippines has been serving Filipino farmers since 1992, and is engaged in the research, production, and marketing of hybrid seeds. Bioseed’s research partnership with the IRRI Bio-Innovation Center will focus on biotechnology research for the development of climate-resilient food and feed crops, particularly rice hybrids that are resilient to drought and salinity, and corn hybrids that have drought tolerance and insect resistance.

“It is indeed a pleasure for DCM Shriram and Bioseed to be partnering with IRRI in the Bio-Innovation Center,” said Mr. K.K. Kaul, Whole Time Director of DCM Shriram Limited. “With the threats of climate change and the requirements for food and nutrition security, this is an apt time for this kind of collaboration, to come together and build solutions and new products to deal with the future challenges of agriculture.”

“This is a new milestone in the overall effort to bring the public and private sector organizations and scientists together to address the most critical needs that are being faced by farmers,” said Dr. Paresh Verma, Executive Director of Bioseed. “Our membership in the Bio-Innovation Center will enable us to expand our research efforts in biotechnology, specifically in the areas of genetic transformation, molecular biology, and subsequently in gene editing, so that we can develop genetically superior hybrid products in food and feed crops which not only have high yield potential but also have high tolerances to biotic and abiotic stresses.”

“IRRI, especially as we transition to One CGIAR, is very forward-looking on the public-private business modules,” said Dr. Jean Balié, Director General of IRRI. “We strive to work seamlessly with our partners to ensure that together, we can achieve our common goals of improving the agri-food sector through collaboration. This new partnership with Bioseed through the Bio-Innovation Center has the potential to open up novel opportunities for innovative research and development, and can help contribute towards scientific and agricultural advancement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

To watch the Zoom recording of the online launch, click here.

The IRRI Bio-Innovation Center is currently open for inquiries on membership, with collaborative research partnerships to be implemented at IRRI Headquarters in Laguna, Philippines. Future plans include expanding to the IRRI South Asia Regional Center in Varanasi, India, as well as in Africa. For more information, visit the website at bic.irri.org or contact BIC Director Dr. Gururaj Kulkarni at g.kulkarni@irri.org.