Research and Development – Powering growth through innovation
Syngenta scientists around the world help meet growers’ needs by developing new ways to increase crop yields and quality in a sustainable way. We are uniquely positioned to develop integrated solutions for our customers by combining our expertise in bioscience, chemistry, crop genetics and agronomy.
Research and development (R&D) investment in 2010 was over $1 billion, reinforcing our industry-leading position. We employ nearly 5,000 people at R&D centers and field stations around the world, and continue to invest in the development of our people, technical capabilities and external partnerships.
We have an integrated R&D organization that exploits the power of our knowledge, capabilities and resources to solve growers’ problems through the combination of seeds genetics, traits and chemistry. Our global product safety and regulatory platforms enable us to discover, develop and register new products faster and more efficiently. We are increasingly working in networks to advance knowledge on important topics, tapping into the expertise and ideas of all our scientists. In Europe, recent investments in Syngenta’s major Crop Protection research facilities at Jealott’s Hill, UK, and Stein, Switzerland, have created internationally renowned centers of excellence. For growers and stakeholders, these sites are a great place to experience first-hand the strength of our product offering and the importance of our technology in meeting food security challenges.
As our business grows rapidly in emerging markets, we recognize a wealth of potential opportunities. Through expansion of R&D activities and partnerships in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, we can tap into local scientific expertise and gain useful insights for future growth.
Our site in Goa, India, is at the center of our efforts to accelerate new product development through closer interaction between research and process chemists. We completed the expansion of the facility there at the end of 2010. We are also building up our biotechnology center in Beijing, China, which focuses on early-stage evaluation of genetically modified traits. In Singapore, we opened a new center for formulation development and marker-assisted breeding technology.
Integrated solutions for specific needs
We introduced a number of innovative technologies in 2010. This included our new insect control trait technology in corn, AGRISURE VIPTERA™, which was launched in the US and received a prestigious Agrow Award in the Best Novel Agricultural Biotechnology category. And a new mode of action cereal fungicide, isopyrazam, was launched in the UK for use in winter and spring barley.
Syngenta scientists are committed to delivering new solutions that can transform the productivity of world agriculture, and meeting the stringent criteria of our industry's regulatory environment. Our main focus is the discovery and development of high value, high quality, integrated products that address growers’ needs. For example, we are developing complementary solutions based on genetics, crop enhancement chemistry and improved agronomic practice to improve water use efficiency. This is a key area of concern for growers, as competition for water resources will increase with population growth, urbanization and through the effects of climate change.
We have launched our first drought tolerant corn variety in the US – AGRISURE ARTESIAN™. Created through a native traits breeding approach, it is the first product to come from our crop genetics research that focuses on both genetically modified (GM) and non-GM approaches to protecting yield under water stress.
In wheat, programs using our crop enhancing MODDUS® have shown a 15–25 percent yield increase, with 15 percent less requirement for irrigation. The vigor effect on soybean treated with CRUISER® seed treatments leads to yield increase through increased roots and faster development of the crop canopy. The active ingredient in CRUISER®, thiamethoxam, activates plant processes that make crops more resilient under a variety of abiotic stress, such as drought.
Our pipelines encompass a broad range of chemical and biotechnology solutions, which we will progressively merge to reflect our holistic approach by crop. The current Crop Protection pipeline, with peak sales potential of over $2 billion, covers all our main product lines. In 2011, we received the first registration of Sedaxane, a broad spectrum seed treatment fungicide that can protect against diseases that are difficult to control in a number of crops.
Our pipeline for Corn seeds has a peak sales potential of more than $2 billion. It covers a broad range of biotech and native traits, which will be accompanied by ongoing genetic improvements. At the end of 2011, subject to regulatory approval, we plan to start launching refuge stack options in corn. We have applied for deregulation of our second generation corn rootworm trait scheduled for launch in 2014, which has a novel mode of action and is showing outstanding field trial results.
People and partners
The knowledge and passion of our people is a tremendous asset, and we recognize the value in personal development for all our employees. As an innovation leader, we attract top scientists from around the world and our focus on people is increasingly recognized externally. In the “2010 Top Employer” survey by “Science” magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Syngenta was voted seventh out of 575 companies.
Innovation is vital to grow our business. We look outwards to find new opportunities and complement our in-house capabilities. Syngenta has a variety of individual collaborations with universities and major agricultural institutes worldwide. For example, we have established a University Innovation Center at Imperial College, London, UK, as a hub for collaboration on systems biology, with initial projects focusing on predictive toxicology as well as tomato quality and flavor.
We recently established a public-private partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to advance the development of new technologies in cereals. Similarly, with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), we are working to reduce constraints on rice productivity. These examples show our commitment to delivering effective solutions to improve global food security.