Vinnova: Umeå Plant Science Centre is one of the top forest biotechnology research establishments in the world

19-3-2013 — / — Sweden’s governmental innovation agency, Vinnova, has evaluated its four Berzelii Centres, and has given a spectacular review for the one at Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC). The evaluation team concluded that it “is one of the top forest biotechnology research establishments in the world.”

The UPSC Berzelii Centre for Forest Biotechnology has recently been assessed for the second time by an international evaluation team. The centre receives funding from the Swedish Research Council (VR) and the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA).

The Centre’s success is due to many contributing causes, but the investigators stress that the most important reason is ”an exceptional leadership” that has the vision, focus, commitment and skill that is necessary to make success possible.

UPSC is a centre of experimental plant biology that was established in 1999. It is collaboration between the Department of Plant Physiology at Umeå University and the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). UPSC is a “Centre of Excellence” and one of Europe’s most prominent research environments for plant science.

”We are very proud and pleased with the positive evaluation,” says Professor Ove Nilsson, director of UPSC. “We have worked hard for many years to establish a world-leading research environment where basic research on experimental plant biology and forest biotechnology is combined with close collaboration with Swedish forestry industry and other stakeholders where these skills are applied. This evaluation is confirmation that we are on track to meet our goals.”

”We have once again received confirmation that UPSC is an exceptionally strong research environment,” says Lena Gustafsson, Vice-Chancellor at Umeå University. “It also means that Umeå University has very good contacts with the Swedish forest industry and that we can demonstrate that excellent research can have strategic significance for the industry.”

The report  had this to say, among other things:
“The evaluation team found the Centre to be operating at an extraordinarily high level. In particular the evaluation team wishes to commend the Centre on its achievement of excellence with respect to the following elements:

• Groundbreaking science in forest biotechnology
• Top performance in publication in high impact refereed journals
• Establishment of exceptional forest biotechnology platforms – personnel, methodologies, equipment and building infrastructure
• Establishment of a robust culture of collaboration and inclusion
• Achievement, through dialogue with industry partners, of a paradigm shift in rethinking fundamental research in the context of industry needs
• Establishment of a productive relationship with SweTree Technologies that connects fundamental research with development of intellectual property and biotechnological innovations
• The strategic recruitment of exceptional, international talent (observed at the professorial and graduate student level by the evaluation team)
• Outstanding performance in winning research funding related to the vision and mission of the Centre totalling over SEK 800 million
• The extraordinary financial and strategic support provided by Umeå University and SLU
• Rapid progress in gender balancing, recruiting women at the junior faculty level
• Production of an outstanding evaluation report, that exceeded our expectations in every respect.”

Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read the entire evaluation

UPSC Berzelii Centre for Forest Biotechnology

For more information, please contact:

Professor Ove Nilsson, director of Umeå Plant Science Centre
Phone: +46 (0)90-786 84 87

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