RCSI partners with Syngenta to develop technology that protects crops

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Image of Professor Andreas Heise standing in a hallway

Researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have teamed up with innovative agtech company Syngenta to develop biodegradable materials that help to protect crops.

In this 12-month collaborative project funded by Syngenta, experts in polymer chemistry at RCSI are exploring how cross-linked coatings of polymers could be applied in agriculture, allowing environmentally-friendly protective agents to be released slowly into plants to protect crops over time.

The innovation at the heart of RCSI’s collaboration with Syngenta focuses on developing biodegradable materials that can break slowly in water and release compounds suitable for crop protection.

RCSI lead researcher on the project, Professor Andreas Heise, is an expert in building and testing polymeric materials, and has a long track record in developing such materials as platforms or carriers to control the delivery of medicines in the body.

"We are delighted to be taking this fundamental polymer technology and expertise, which we originally developed for controlled drug delivery in the body, and exploring with Syngenta, new ways to use this technology in the agricultural sector," said Professor Heise, Professor of Chemistry at RCSI.

"This project demonstrates how innovation in material science can be applied in many different ways for the benefit of health, the environment and society in general. Industry-academic collaborations such as this one can help to unlock interdisciplinary innovation."

Syngenta, a global company with headquarters in Switzerland, has a strong R&D focus on protecting crops as they grow. The company develops herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and seed treatment products that promote strong and healthy growth based on scientific research. The Syngenta partnership with Professor Heise in RCSI is now exploring new ways to deliver those protective agents.

"We are thoroughly enjoying collaborating with Professor Andreas Heise and postdoctoral researcher Dr Bo Li on this exciting project, looking to advance our understanding on how novel materials can be applied to benefit the application of crop protection products," said Dr Annette Christie, Team Leader within Product, Technology and Engineering at Syngenta.

This partnership brings together RCSI expertise in polymer chemistry and Syngenta's drive to improve the way crops are grown and protected so that everyone benefits, from consumers to farmers and the environment.