Mixed Research Units
The aim of the Mixed Research Units (UMiPs, from the acronym in Portuguese) is to create a collaborative research environment by having researchers and technicians from Embrapa and from other national and international institutions share facilities.
Such sharing and exchange can take place either at Embrapa's facilities, when the corporation hosts external partners from other institutions, or in other institutions, when they receive Embrapa researchers.
The UMiPs allow Embrapa and partners to improve their knowledge base without the need for major investments in infrastructure and staff, expanding the capacity to develop technology and solutions.
Currently, there are two UMiPs in operation:
1) The Mixed Research Unit in Genomics Applied to Climate Change (UMiP GenClima) is the fruit of a partnership between Embrapa and the State University of Campinas (Universidade Estadual de Campinas - Unicamp). Inaugurated in December 2012, its goal is to create a pipeline of gene discovery and validation through transgenics, aiming at the production of varieties that are adapted to environmental conditions exacerbated by climate change.
The UMiP GenClima is managed by a general coordinator appointed by Unicamp and a council composed of Embrapa researchers and lecturers of the University. Initially, the goal of the Unit in the medium term is to develop proprietary genetic technologies that allow the creation of maize varieties (the model species adopted by UMiP GenClima) with higher tolerance to drought and high temperatures.
Currently, UMiP GenClima operates provisorily, in a small scale, in laboratories at Unicamp and at Embrapa Agricultural Informatics (Campinas, SP). But the Mixed Unit's initial team is working in planning the unit's own lab facilities in Unicamp's Scientific and Technological Park.
UMiP GenClima will count on laboratories for bioinformatics, molecular biology, genetic transformation, and automated large- scale phenotyping in controlled conditions (a structure that currently does not exist in the country) for the identification of transgenic events that confer tolerance to abiotic stresses.
The Unit's pipeline will have the capacity to assess hundreds of transgenic events, and load innovative gene constructs that ensure patent protection and add value to the technologies that are developed. With the implementation of its own facilities, UMiP GenClima will work like a biotechnology startup, with about 70 researchers and technicians in its full configuration.
2) Officially launched in June, the Mixed Research and Technology Transfer Unit (Unidade Mista de Pesquisa e Transferência de Tecnologia - UMIPTT) was born from a technical cooperation agreement between Embrapa, the Federal Technological University of Paraná (Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná - UTFPR) and the Paraná Agronomic Institute (Instituto Agronômico do Paraná - Iapar).
Based on an innovative institutional arrangement model, and with operations in research and technology transfer, UMIPTT is headquartered at the UTFPR campus in the city of Francisco Beltrão, Paraná. Two Embrapa Temperate Agriculture (Pelotas, RS) employees have already been allocated to the region.
They will liaise and identify demands in the region and propose technological solutions in partnership with the other Embrapa research centers in the country. The expectation is that the new Mixed Unit will benefit 42 villages in Southwestern Paraná with economic and social development for Family Farming.
In addition to the strengthening of milk supply, fruit and vegetable production, and value aggregation through agroindustries, youth and succession in Family Farming are considered important items in the agenda for this first stage of implementation of the unit.