The new InnovPlantProtect (InPP) facilities, which involved an investment of 2.8 million euros, were officially opened this Thursday, 28th July, at 2:30 pm, in the building of the National Institute for Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV) – Polo de Elvas, in Elvas. The inauguration was attended by 120 guests.
The opening session of InPP was attended by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, the Secretary of State for Regional Development, Isabel Ferreira, the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Rui Martinho, and the city councilor of Elvas Municipality, Hermenegildo Rodrigues, who represented the President of Elvas’s City Hall.
Ana Abrunhosa congratulated and thanked the entire InPP team for the work they have been developing and highlighted that “to carry out quality research, anywhere and not just in the most common geographies, it is necessary to provide the availability of highly qualified human resources in the areas to be investigated, adequate facilities, cutting-edge equipment, and state-of-the-art technology” and, according to the minister, “InPP has all these conditions”.
The Minister of Territorial Cohesion underlined the role of “fair working and salary conditions”, as additional factors that contribute to making InPP a project of “excellence”, which “has everything it takes to fulfill its scientific aspirations” and warned also of the “importance that European funds have had and must continue to have for projects like this: a regional development project based on a happy marriage between knowledge, research, companies, and the community”.
Elvira Fortunato highlighted the relevance of InPP and its mission to “actively work to find practical, innovative and sustainable solutions in such an important and vital area as agriculture and the preservation of the environment and natural resources” in the current national and global context. The minister also added that InPP “is a meeting of the will of various national and international stakeholders, to do more and better science, to offer society more technology and innovation and to transform knowledge into practical solutions that improve people’s lives.”
“We need all the stakeholders, all the researchers, and all the institutions like the ones that come together today around this collaborative laboratory”, highlighted the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education and concluded her speech with a message of strength to the entire InPP team: “May this be a house where your work is consolidated and strengthened for many years to come. Your success will be everyone’s success.”
Isabel Ferreira highlighted the importance of InPP’s areas of activity, especially in the “context of the pandemic and war we are experiencing, which has increasingly shown the importance of the agri-food sector, as a response to emergency and crisis situations. And, therefore, InPP’s approach of focusing its intervention at a stage still before the production itself, and of assuming this fundamental role of bringing scientific knowledge of excellence that exists in these themes, and especially in this theme of the fight against pests and diseases that affect the most important crops.”
The Secretary of State for Regional Development wished for “a path of success” and underlined the importance of funding, namely “competitive funding, for the provision of services, so that CoLABs are increasingly self-sustainable”.
Rui Martinho highlighted the work that has been carried out by the InPP team, namely in the control and eradication of Xylella fastidiosa and in mitigating the effect of fire blight, which “constitute very significant threats to our productive activity”.
“We are dealing with an organization [o InPP] that plays a central role in the development of agriculture, in the economic and environmental performance of our farms, and, due to its composition, will ensure the necessary transfer of knowledge to the sector and companies and entities involved in the production process”, stated the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Finally, Hermenegildo Rodrigues began his intervention by expressing the “pride of the Municipality in being part of this project, as a privileged partner, recognizing the added value it brings to this region, essentially agricultural, and simultaneously allowing, through scientific knowledge, to give us to know the world”.
The city councilor of Elvas Municipality also noted, with “enormous satisfaction and pride”, the first provisional patent application submitted on the 21st of July by the InPP team, which he considered “a step in the enormous mission of this laboratory that I am sure will only be the first of many”.
After the inauguration session, the CoLAB was also presented by Margarida Oliveira, the chairman of the Board of Directors of InPP, and by Pedro Fevereiro, executive director.
Pedro Fevereiro thanked all the guests and congratulated the associates for the “path taken”, even considering them as “the soul of the institution”, without whom, according to the CEO, “it would not be possible to build what we have built”. The executive director also thanked to the funding and promoters, the entire team, as well as InPP’s clients “for the trust shown”, and to the institutions that agreed to form partnerships and collaborations with CoLAB.
According to Pedro Fevereiro, InPP “has to develop innovation, protect it and deliver it to whoever is able to put it on the market”. One of InPP’s strategic objectives is to create an industrial property, through the development of new products that are patentable and, subsequently, delivered to companies and placed on the market, thus enabling value creation.
During his speech, the executive director also mentioned the initial funding of around seven million euros, of which 2.8 million were used to modernize infrastructure and equipment, which “allow developing innovative products”, and highlighted the 110 thousand euros that resulted from the activity of InPP in 2021, a value that will be “largely exceeded” in 2022.
Pedro Fevereiro ended his speech with a focus on the future. According to the CEO, the institution’s future will depend on maintaining the team, ensuring its financial sustainability and attracting public and private funding for CoLAB, and creating services that meet the needs of customers and solve their problems.
The event ended with a visit to the new facilities.
InPP started the works of the definitive installations in the building of INIAV Elvas, a founding associate at InPP, on 18th January 2021, and is now fully operational, after all the remodeling of the building has been completed and all the equipment has been installed. The inauguration marks a new stage for InPP, in which it is intended to continue the development of new products (new biopesticides and new resistant plants) and services provided to farmers, as well as at the social and regional level, insofar as it positions itself as an investment attraction center for the Alentejo region and also boosts the creation of qualified employment and the densification of the country’s interior.
This is a fundamental milestone in the history of InPP, its associates, members of governing bodies, and partners, and an essential tool for the future of the institution, being central to the affirmation of the mission of developing innovative, biological and digital solutions, to promote ways of safer, more sustainable and productive agricultural production, adjustable to the variations introduced by climate change in the Alentejo region.