On 11 December 2018 the European Commission communicated its decision to grant funds in relation to the call SFS-29-2018 “Innovations in plant variety testing” of the Horizon 2020 program to the consortium INVITE (INnovations in plant Variety Testing in Europe). CPVO together with 26 partners across Europe from various sectors ranging from research, breeding, DUS examination to performance testing for both conventional and organic farming, participate in INVITE. INVITE is coordinated by the French research organization INRA. The amount awarded is about 8 million euros to be spent in a period of 5 years.

The project aims at improving efficiency of variety testing and availability of information to stakeholders on variety performance under diversified production conditions and on biotic and abiotic stresses. It addresses DUS and performance testing in a balanced way and intends to maximize synergies between them through related activities based on phenotyping, genotyping, modelling and database management.

INVITE will focus on 10 crops. The identification of the research needs and main challenges to be addressed for each of the crops was based on main end-users needs (Examination Offices, CPVO, breeders, farmers), taking into account existing knowledge and projects. One expected impact is the introduction of plant traits into the testing protocols that respond to new challenges and demands in the conventional and organic sectors, while also taking into account the economic return of growers.

Martin Ekvad, President of the CPVO, states that “Agriculture and food systems sectors are at the very heart of the key challenges to be addressed for the years to come, including adaptation to climate change, ensure food security and safeguarding natural resources. I am very happy that in its Horizon 2020 Work Program, aimed at addressing such challenges, the EU has included plant variety testing as an important element. I am convinced that the CPVO and its partners working at examining facilities across the EU as well as all the other partners to INVITE will contribute to a successful project from which the sector and in the end the citizens will benefit”

The next step is now the signature of the Consortium agreement and the launching of the work through the organization of the kick-off meeting at the start of 2019.

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