A decade at the forefront of Agroforestry Biotech

The Plant Biotechnology and Genomics Center (CBGP), a mixture research center of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), celebrates its tenth anniversary.


• The CBGP is one of the 25 research centers in Spain with the exclusive Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence seal. The CBGP is, among the center in Spain dedicated to agricultural research, the only one that has been financially supported with 3 Starting Grants of the European Research Council and 2 projects of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


The Plant Biotechnology and Genomics Center (CBGP, UPM-INIA) has held the celebration event of the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of its facilities at its headquarters located in the Montegancedo Campus of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), which took place in March 2009.


This Center, with the Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence seal, is "aligned with the basic objectives of our university in the field of research, such as the recruitment of talent, the development of joint programs with companies, the generation of opportunities for our students and researchers to develop innovative projects, in addition to restoring the trust that society places in our institution in the form of scientific results", said Guillermo Cisneros, Rector of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.



Esther Esteban, Director of INIA, considered that her institution is "proud of being part of this project that has lasted 10 years. It has been and continues to be an enriching project for both institutions and it is a clear example that when research and formation go hand in hand the benefits are mutual. The INIA provides, in addition to scientific excellence, connection with the reality and needs of the Spanish agricultural and forestry sectors. It is an example that should be repeated in other areas of knowledge."


The CBGP was recognized in July 2017 as the Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence (SO) by the Spanish Research Agency, being one of the 25 SO centers in Spain. As the director of the Center, Antonio Molina, points out, "this milestone in the short history of the CBGP has been a significant boost to the development of our ambitious strategic plan." This plan includes, among other objectives, "the implementation of a new program on Computational/Systems Biology and Genomics (CsBGP) and the development of cross-collaborative Transversal Scientific Programs (TSPs) among the CBGP research groups to address more ambitious scientific challenges and complex biological problems, such as improving the response of plants to biotic stresses, adapting plants to changing environmental conditions and improving plant nutrition".


The researchers of the CBGP develop a scientific activity of vanguard and excellence as evidenced by the quality of their publications, in the best international journals, the attraction of research talent, the competitive-funds received from the European Research Council (3 Starting Grants), and the internationalization of their activities (the origin of 27% of the center's research funds). The director of the CBGP, finally, emphasizes that "the training of research personnel, with more than 90 PhD Thesis defended during the last 10 years, is one of the activities of which we are very proud, given the relevance that this formation activity has for the advance and the scientific-technological development of the country".



The researchers of the CBGP also develop an intense formation activity at the Bachelor and Master level in the Escuelas Técnicas Superiores de Ingeniería Agronómica, Alimentaria y de Biosistemas (ETSIAAB) y de Ingeniería de Montes, Forestales y del Medio Natural (ETSIMFMN), which combine with its commitment to dissemination among students of schools and high-schools throughout the Madrid Region.


The CBGP also stands out for its intense activity of technology transfer to the bioeconomy sector, the creation of technology-based companies (spin-offs), and the development of commercial products. As Antonio Molina indicates, "Montegancedo-UPM's innovative ecosystem is a unique environment to stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship, knowledge transfer and market launch of new technologies." This Translational Biology Activity (TBA), objective of a strategic action in the SO-CBGP, has attracted the interest of multinational enterprises, small and medium-sized national/international enterprises, Ventures Capitals, and foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Fundation. All these business entities and foundations collaborate with CBGP groups and contribute to financially support more than 25% of the center's research activities. Finally, Molina indicates that "without the continued support of our institutions (UPM and INIA), the national, international and regional R&D programs, and without the firm commitment of the CBGP researchers and their staff, we would not have achieved this success. We are very proud of CBGP community and we have a great confidence about the future of the CBGP project (UPM-INIA) ".


The great challenge of the CBGP (UPM-INIA) for the coming years is to develop science of excellence that should provide technological solutions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals-2030. In this direction, the center is already working on its new strategic program “CBGP-2030: feeding the world”.



About the Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas

The CBGP is a mixed research center between the UPM and the INIA that was founded in July 2006, after its approval by the Governing Council of the UPM and the subsequent approval of the Foundation Agreement between the two institutions. After this first step, between 2006-2008 the CBGP facilities were built with funds from the Scientific and Technological Parks call of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. These facilities have the most modern scientific and technological infrastructures to carry out cutting-edge research in biotechnology and plant genomics.


The first CBGP researchers, belonging to the Biotechnology Departments of the UPM and INIA, moved to the new facilities at the Montegancedo-UPM Campus in the fall of 2008. Since its inauguration, 10 new research groups have been appointed into the CBGP. Its staff has increased from 88 people to the 175 people currently working in the center, which are distributed among the 22 research groups and the research/administration services. The CBGP has 40 staff researchers (UPM Teaching Staff and INIA Researchers), 5 Researchers from the Ramón y Cajal Program of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, and 2 from the Talent Attraction Program of the Madrid Regional Government, 43 postdoctoral, 52 PhD students, 19 lab technicians and 16 people in the administration/management/research services who provide support to CBGP researcher.