Syngenta University Innovation Centre

The Syngenta University Innovation Centre (UIC) is a Syngenta funded programme aiming to establish methodologies to model and predict "unknown" data in projects aligned with Syngenta commercial interests.

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The Sygenta UIC on Systems Biology at Imperial

Syngenta and Imperial established the UIC via a collaborative research model to support a major project in systems biology modelling and to facilitate further interactions.

Predictive modelling

With incomplete and complex data, Imperial offered Syngenta expertise in mathematical modelling and machine learning that would exploit experimental data. The UIC undertook two pioneer projects: 'Predictive (cancer) Toxicology'and 'Tomato Ripening'.

The objective of the latter project is to build a predictive model of tomato ripening and fruit quality, which would allow Syngenta to identify the main genetic control points in this process. Syngenta's goal is to exploit this knowledge through conventional breeding programmes to develop tomato breeds with qualtiy traits meeting both retailing requirements (e.g. tomato texture) and customer satisfaction (e.g. taste).

Spin off project

A third project on 'ecosystems modelling' was created. 'Eco-modelling' applies the mathematics of the small scale (cells, genes and metabolites) to that of the large-scale organisms and fields.

"The UIC has enabled us to evaluate hypotheses in key business areas that would have been impossible without predictive systems biology, It has also strengthened the relationship with Imperial across the board."

Professor Stuart J Dunbar
Senior Syngenta Fellow and Group Leader

Benefits to Imperial and Syngenta

  • Knowledge Transfer: Imperial and Syngenta personnel undertake lectures, tutorials and seminars at both Jealott's Hill (Syngenta) and Imperial
  • Syngenta gained exposure to the global talent pool of Imperial's students and academics, and allowed them insight into the commercial world
  • Predictive modelling of crop behaviour and understanding of crop technology is pivotal to the commercial drivers for Syngenta's core business

Benefits to wider public

  • UIC research projects could help address the grand challenge of global food security