EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 7 Seeds of Open Pollinated Flowers  Seeds for Commercial Landscaping & Home Use  Seeds for Pollinator Conservation  Hundreds of Species in Stock  Specialty Mixtures to Fit Every Need call: +1.303.431.7333 | fax: +1.303.467.7886 | email: 5380 Vivian St., Arvada, CO 80002 USA ES: IN THE COMING DECADES WE WILL BE FACING EVEN MORE CHALLENGES THAN BEFORE, SUCH AS CLIMATE CHANGE, FOR EXAMPLE. IS THE EU SPENDING ITS MONEY IN THE RIGHT PLACES? MC: Challenges with a global reach are best addressed through a global approach. Across the world one finds legacy innovation centres with complementary expertise. This should be lever- aged. R&I is most effective if it builds on a solid starting basis of expertise, know-how, networks and infrastructure. Consistency of direction for multiple years offers an expert centre the great- est chance of delivering. So, ideally it is agreed at global level who best contributes to what. This would allow the EU to target existing resources meaningfully. At the same time this would offer job continuity. This then ultimately translates into a bal- anced ecosystem involving academia, start-ups, R&D companies and multinationals, and students seeing employment options. To repeat your question: Does the EU spend the money today in the right places? It certainly looks for this global approach, it certainly has identified the European strengths. What from my perspective is missing is, again, this masterplan, and assumptions and approximations of what should be achieved by when, broad brush of course. This would enable an early real- ity check, and probably the development of realistic perspectives of what can be delivered by when, and who should do what to get there. Moreover, it would make communication more concrete and understandable, and improve the trust between academia, industry, and society. ES: WHERE DO YOU SEE THAT IMPROVEMENTS COULD TAKE PLACE IN THE OVERALL EU PROCESS OF FUNDING R&I PROJECTS? MC: This process has been fine-tuned over multiple years. It involves good people, aims at balanced and objective assess- ments, and largely serves the purpose. My question is more whether the right subject matter goes through that process. I am concerned about the inefficiency of non-orchestrated and parallel efforts. Fortunately, there is creativity on this aspect at the side of the EU. Take for instance the current mission R&I concept that aims at launching multi-year, multi-disciplinary, critical scale efforts targeting goals that resonate with society. Instruments of this type should be tested for their effective- ness, the ability to steer while going, and their impact on the innovation ecosystem. In addition, the process to assemble the different innovation proposals that should make up such critical scale mission R&I effort would need careful design. Failing at this level, will have major consequences for the overall success rate. In industry one tends to work backwards from a given goal to define what needs to be accomplished. Based on this, tasks, handover points, and timing are defined. How do you do this best in a mission R&I setting in the proposal phase? ES: LOOKING AT THE MOST RECENT R&I PROJECTS IN THE AG SECTOR, SOME SAY THERE IS A BIAS IN GRANTING THE PROJECTS, TOWARDS MORE UNCONVENTIONAL TOPICS OR VIEWPOINTS. IS THIS OK, OR SHOULD THIS CHANGE? MC: Historically, R&I would indeed primarily deal with basic research and closely associated applied research for the upstream part of the ag value chain. Nowadays, one sees an increasing number of R&I funding options for the middle and downstream part of the value chain. I find this an excellent development. The latter players are often part of a mature indus- try where margins are low, cost innovation is king, and where it is close to impossible to upgrade processes, products or product portfolios without external help. Importantly, the time it takes for society to receive the benefits from such R&I help, is much shorter. Ideally, funding schemes are targeted such that across the Ag value chain R&I starting points are properly balanced and in line with the key hurdles across the value chain. ES: ARE THERE SECTORS IN THE EU AG AND SEED SECTOR THAT DESERVE MORE ATTENTION AND MORE PROJECTS? MC: There is an agile dimension to this question. There are a number of trends, such as regional independence, healthy food, sustainable agriculture, short block chains, mitigation of climate change, digitalisation, electrification, robotization, artificial intelligence, etc. that in the coming decades will dramatically change the way how the ag value chain operates, what products are made, how they are made and where, what value is created, and what business models apply. One should conduct scenario analyses to appreciate what the best choices for targeting R&I efforts would be. This sounds as no answer, but the challenge is to reduce the complexity ahead to a simplicity level that allows politicians to act with wisdom. I see too few efforts in the ag sector aimed at trans- lating trends into plausible outcomes and use this to deduce meaningful actions. I expect that the drive towards healthy food and sustainable agriculture may offer here in the near future the first good examples. ES: IS THE PRIVATE SEED SECTOR SUFFICIENTLY INVOLVED IN ALL THE RELEVANT PROJECTS? MC: The short answer is “no”. I observe that the funding instru- ments and projects are known by only a relatively small group. It appears as if there are two circuits, one that actively makes use of the opportunities, and one that is hardly aware what is