A first-of-its kind global learning initiative is providing Syngenta employees working in plant breeding and related disciplines with ongoing access to knowledge and programs to enhance their life-long professional development. The Syngenta Breeding Academy is also helping deliver breeding innovation and integrated crop solutions to market more quickly. 

According to Heather Merk, Breeding Academy program lead at Syngenta, this learning initiative is a key element of the Syngenta research and development (R&D) strategy. “The Syngenta Breeding Academy is a world class professional development program for our employees in plant breeding and related disciplines,” Merk said. “The program is designed to develop and enhance technical and collaborative skills. It helps us to think like a grower and deliver integrated solutions around the world, beginning with the seed. Breeding Academy topics include: foundations of breeding knowledge; updating role-specific skills; best practices and approaches for integrated breeding; and breakthrough programs to advance R&D beyond current realities.”

The Syngenta Breeding Academy seeks to help plant breeding professionals, and those who work with them, better understand R&D’s role in meeting customer needs to feed a growing global population. Ray Riley, head of germplasm technology at Syngenta, says it begins with asking the right questions.

“Reframing the discussion around the user experience helps us to anticipate customer needs and sustainably improve agricultural productivity,” Riley said. “Our people are the source of our plant breeding innovation, and harnessing their collective skill is key to bringing that innovation to market. It’s no longer enough to possess skills or knowledge in plant breeding. Today, it’s critical to understand how to engage others who have skills and knowledge that complement our own.”

Through its Breeding Academy, Syngenta is also working collaboratively with leading universities around the world to support them as they prepare students for careers in plant breeding and related disciplines.

“In addition to providing an environment for life-long learning at Syngenta, we are committed to helping develop the skills of those who will work in plant breeding tomorrow,” Riley added. “We want to help them better understand how to bring their skills to a project team, and how to leverage the interface between R&D and other disciplines. The rate of change in genetic information and new technology is dramatic. We want to help plant breeders, and those who work with them, lead that change.”