September 16, 2021
>> Proyecto del CRAG para proteger cultivos frente a altas temperaturas recibe una ayuda CaixaResearch Validate (Fundacion Antama)
The team behind the project "Agrochemicals for crop resistance to climate change". From left to right: Maria del Mar Marquès, Ana I. Caño-Delgado and Fidel Lozano.
”la Caixa” Foundation has announced today the 20 new projects of great social impact that the organization will support to accelerate their arrival to the market through its CaixaResearch Validate and Consolidate 2021 grants. One of these new projects is led by the CRAG researcher Ana I.Caño-Delgado, who seeks to develop compounds to protect crops against climate change. This is the first time that this Call for biomedical and health projects supports an idea in the agricultural sphere.
Caño-Delgado's project is one of the 17 proposals selected among the 97 presented in the CaixaResearch Validate call, aimed at early innovation projects and promoted by the foundation in collaboration with Caixa Capital Risc and EIT Health. The selected projects receive up to 100,000 euros from the programme to validate their technologies and design a roadmap to commercialize them. In addition, beyond financial support, the lead researcher will receive guidance consisting of specialized training in key areas (such as technology transfer, financing tools or negotiations) and mentoring from experts in the sector.
“We are very happy to have been selected in this Call, which provides a unique opportunity to valorise our technology and design a business model that allows us to go to market. We have been doing research on the plant molecular signalling processes for 20 years, and it is time to translate our results into sustainable solutions for food production. Specifically, with this project we want to develop compounds to protect crops from high temperatures”, explains the lead researcher of the project Ana I. Caño-Delgado.
Agrochemicals for crop resistance to climate change
Climate change is seriously damaging agricultural production, and the forecasts do not invite much optimism. Current climate models foresee an increase in the frequency of heat waves and long periods of drought in the coming decades. Consequently, strengthening the resistance of crops to high temperatures and drought will be essential to mitigate the impact of climate change on agricultural production and for the global well-being.
In recent years, the research group led by Ana I. Caño-Delgado has made important discoveries about the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow plants to withstand periods of drought –research that has been supported by the European Research Council (ERC). Now, ”la Caixa” Foundation grant will allow them to go one step further and turn these discoveries into products at the service of agriculture and society. In this line, the research team has already applied for an European patent with the objective to develop agrochemical products, respectful with the environment, that protect crops from high temperatures and drought.
Protect crops to protect health
The decision of ”la Caixa” Foundation to include this project in its call for biomedical projects supports the concept of "OneHealth”, the idea that human health is closely related to the health of plants, animals, and the environment. A concept that was also central to the International Year of Plant Health, in 2020, which promoted the message “protect plants, protect life”. The project led by Caño-Delgado seeks to guarantee food security and quality for current and future societies, a basic condition for human health.