The concept of Virtual Laboratory – or Labex, was created by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization, Embrapa, as means of increasing its scientific and technological ties with advanced research organizations around the world. Instead of building its own platform abroad, Embrapa uses the concept of virtual lab, or lab without walls, to negotiate access to its partner organizations’ existing facilities. The concept, which has been tested and validated in the United States and in Europe, is now being extended to Asia, in partnership with the Rural Development Administration – RDA, of South Korea.
The Embrapa Labex Program
The Labex program is unique in several important aspects. From its inception it has been designed as a two-way collaboration, with both countries benefitting from the cooperation. Labex-USA was the first to be established by Embrapa, in 1998, with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The second Labex opened in 2002 at Agropolis International in Montpellier, France and later expanded to Netherlands and UK, becoming Labex Europe. After more than a decade, the Labex Program has produced impressive outputs. The scientists of Labex have helped develop several new collaborative projects with American, French and other European labs. The networking, visibility and attractiveness of Labex have also allowed exchange of many Brazilian and foreign scientists, with substantial increase in the dynamics of exchange, short and long term training and interactions between Brazilian and partner countries teams and labs. The participation of Embrapa and its partner organizations in international programs has been strengthened through the Labex Program, as has the production of publications and organization of international events and meetings.
How it works
The development of the Labex concept was based on the evidence that Embrapa scientists needed to strengthen contacts with the best research organizations abroad, not only by training students, as Embrapa had been done for more than three decades, but also involving its senior staff in international cooperation. Instead of building its own platform abroad, Embrapa develop the concept of a virtual lab, or a lab without walls, using the partner organizations’ existing facilities.
Usually, the creation of a Labex involves the negotiation of a general umbrella agreement with a partner organization abroad and a selection of a limited number of priority themes and domains of mutual interest, like plant biotechnology, genetic resources, agroenergy, etc. Implementation is initiated by opening a call for candidates among senior staff for 2-year appointments abroad, renewable once. The chosen candidates then join the partner organization, developing a collaborative program with a lab or team working in a priority domain.
An important aspect of Labex is that the chosen candidates must spend part of their time working with the host team on their project(s) and also on monitoring science and technology in their host country or region. It is a responsibility of Labex scientists to interact with Embrapa’s teams back home and to promote new collaborative projects and activities between the host country organizations and Embrapa and its partners in Brazil.
Both Brazil and South Korea have much to gain from this collaboration. Cooperation with Asia is considered as a priority by the Brazilian government in general and by Embrapa in particular and is now strengthened by the agreement allowing the implementation of a Labex in Korea. This will contribute to closer relations between Brazil and Korea, with benefits for both countries, as well as to other partner countries that can eventually join and add strength to the Embrapa-RDA partnership.
Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization – Embrapa
Parque Estação Biológica – PqEB s/n°.
Brasília, DF – Brazil – CEP 70770-901
Phone: (61) 3448-4433 -
Fax: (61) 3448-4890 / 3448-4891
Rural Development Administration – RDA
Suin_ro, 150th (250 Seodun-dong)
Gwonseon-gu Suwon Gyeonggi-do
Suwon, Republic of Korea (441-707)
Embrapa Labex Korea
International Technical Cooperation Center (ITCC)
Rural Development Administration (RDA)
250 Seodun-dong, Gwonseon-gu
Suwon 441-707, Republic of Korea
e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org