AGER – Agri-food & Research is a program started in 2008 to enhance the Italian food value chain by promoting the discovery of sustainable innovative technologies that can be easily adopted by people in the field. Alongside this main line, the program also backs professional growth pathways for young scientists giving them a chance to work in science and ultimately contributing to stem the brain drain.
In the 12 years of AGER operation, this program has funded projects focused on research themes that today are front and center in the European agenda such as fighting climate change, promoting a circular economy, nutrition and food health. On the domestic front, the areas of research identified as priorities under AGER have become the subjects of initiatives taken by Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to promote Italian agriculture and food. For example, the AGER call for projects in the olive growing and olive oil production sector came out a few months before the Ministry drafted Italy’s National Plan for Olive Growing and Olive Oil production, and the AGER call for mountain farming projects came out ahead of the “mountain product” quality label initiative of the Ministry.
AGER is the first and largest program supporting agri-food scientific research undertaken by a philanthropic alliance in Europe. To-date, under AGER the Alliance has given over 34 million euros to 27 applied research projects and 5 technology transfer projects in 8 segments that are strategic for the development of Italy’s agri-food sector i.e., cereal crops, fruits & vegetables, grape-growing and wine, olive growing and olive oil, milk and dairy production, aquaculture, mountain farming and animal husbandry. Currently AGER is sponsored by an Alliance of 16 Italian foundations that together cover the entire country, namely: Fondazione Cariplo (lead organization with powers to represent the others), Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano, Fondazione Cariparma, Fondazione CRC, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Fondazione Estense, Fondazione CR Firenze, Fondazione Friuli, Fondazione di Modena, Fondazione di Sardegna, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Teramo, Fondazione Caritro, Fondazione di Venezia, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Vercelli, Fondazione CON IL SUD.
On the back of past achievements and in light of future scenarios for the economy and the environment, the Foundations in the Alliance are in talks to bolster their support to agri-food research by allocating new funds to additional segments.