In the national center where innovation helps the ecosystem

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Innovative technologies and artificial intelligence can help safeguard biodiversity. The 20 million euro call from the National Biodiversity Future Center, the Italian Center for Biodiversity (Nbfc), to accompany SMEs in industrial and experimental research activities expires in two days, on March 14th.

It is one of the latest actions implemented by the Center created in September 2022 for the monitoring, conservation, restoration and enhancement of Italian and Mediterranean biodiversity. The headquarters is in Palermo and another will soon open in Venice. It brings together 49 entities, including universities, research centers, large companies and foundations and was promoted by the Cnr and financed with Pnrr funds with a three-year budget of 320 million euros and a network of approximately 2 thousand researchers. «We are one of the five national frontier research centers – says Carlo Calfapietra, director of Iret, the Institute for Research on Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Cnr and Cnr scientific director of the NBFC – and our creation represents an unprecedented initiative in Italy support for biodiversity that puts innovation at the center with a multidisciplinary effort.” The activity unfolds along three macro areas: sea, land and city with different areas and actors involved. Any examples? «For monitoring activities – explains Calfapietra – we support projects linked to the analysis of data through images which prove useful not only for measuring the portion of territory dedicated to greenery, but also for preventing catastrophes such as fires». For conservation and to comply with the EU objective of a share of protected areas equal to at least 30% of the total, all eyes are focused on germplasm, which allows the genetic makeup of a given species to be analysed. «For restoration – he adds – our action focuses on the promotion of Nbs, nature-based solutions, while for valorization our work will focus, among other things, on screening molecules extracted from natural and plant materials». A transversal theme is open innovation (as demonstrated by the expiring tender). «A total budget of 58 million – he states – will be allocated to the support of SMEs, start-ups and spin-offs and to the development of new skills of researchers on the subject of biodiversity and to support the innovative activities of public bodies and other entities committed to defending the protected areas”. The Pnrr allocation, concludes Calfapietra, “covers our activity until 2026. The hope is that the Center can continue beyond that date”.

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