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Excellent remarks for VTT’s plant biotechnology research from the Finnish Academy review panel


An international review panel of the Academy of Finland has evaluated the quality of the plant biotechnology research executed in 12 Finnish units in Finland. According to the panel the excellent infrastructure together with the focused research topics have led to the strength of the VTT unit.

The review panel observed an overall high standard of plant science research in Finland. The quality of research and research output is heterogeneous across the different units. The evaluation covered plant science in four universities (University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland, University of Oulu and University of Turku) and three government research organisations (MTT Agrifood Research Finland, the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla, and VTT).

According to the report the unique expertise of the VTT group together with their international connections has produced a good publication track record, which includes papers in high ranking journals. The group is well embedded in the infrastructure of the organization, which allows opportunities to perform specialized research with other VTT units. The panel also values the leadership of the research and excellent continuity of the on-going program, which requires setting up new projects after previous projects expire.

The evaluation focused primarily on VTT’s Plant Biotechnology group of about 20 people but it also links to other plant-related research activities at VTT.

The scientists at VTT have for example developed technologies that allow efficient production of small molecules and proteins, for example pharmaceuticals, in cultivated plant cells. Recently they have worked together with other experts of the VTT’s Cell Factory Knowledge Centre, and cultivated plant cells in pilot scale. Health effects of the active berry compounds has been also one of the research focuses of the group in recent years.

“At the moment we are expanding our algae research. We are also about to start some very interesting industrial projects”, Technology Manager Oksman-Caldentey reports.

The evaluation was performed by an international expert panel with Professor Dorothea Bartels (University of Bonn) as Chair and Professors Neil Baker (University of Essex), Thomas Boller (University of Basel), Maarteen Kornneef (Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research), Julio Salinas (Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas-CSIC; CIB, CSIC), Alison M. Smith (John Innes Centre) and Eva Sundberg (SLU, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) as panel members.

Evaluation in the internet