Skoltech is an international graduate research-focused university that was founded by the group of world-renowned scientists in 2011. Skoltech's curriculum focuses on technology and innovation, offering Master's programs in 11 technological disciplines. Students receive rigorous theoretical and practical training, design their own research projects, participate in internships and gain entrepreneurial skills in English. The faculty is comprised of current researchers with international accreditation and achievements.

Skoltech-based Plant Biotechnology Research and Education Center launched with Bayer’s support

Pursuant to the instruction of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), Bayer, a global leader in agricultural technology, allocates 5 million U.S. dollars for the Skoltech-based Plant Biotechnology Research and Education Center. The funds will be used to equip laboratories at Skoltech and its partner universities and deliver educational programs meeting the highest world standards. The Center was established in collaboration with leading Russian agricultural universities and research centers: Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, Belgorod State Agrarian University named after V. Gorin and the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Branch of RAS.

The mission of the Center is to create a world-class sustainable platform for application-oriented interdisciplinary training in plant breeding and biotechnology. Despite the pandemic-related restrictions, this past January the Center successfully completed the Beginners module within its Advanced Plant Breeding Technologies program.

The Center is a unique educational platform in Russia, where students gain valuable knowledge and hands-on skills from top Russian and international experts, including leading biotechnologists from Bayer. The Center is directed by Laurent Gentzbittel, head of the Skoltech Digital Agriculture Laboratory and professor at Skoltech and l’Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse (INP). The Center’s educational programs offer advanced competencies and skills in applied accelerated selection to breeders with professional background and experience in the field. Applicants who successfully pass the competitive selection gain free access to any of the Center’s educational offerings.

Natalya Smolyarenko, head of the Crop Science division at Bayer Russia and C.I.S.: “The creation of the Center boosts the development of the high-tech plant breeding industry while opening up a wealth of possibilities for the agricultural sector in terms of research potential and human resources. The Center’s graduates will be able to augment their breeding competences and, most notably, share knowledge, thereby facilitating the introduction of advanced technologies in crop farming. The educational program will include training sessions and workshops on seed breeding technologies, including marker-assisted selection. The students will have the opportunity to work on state-of-the-art lab equipment used by the world’s leading laboratories and researchers.”

Alexey Ivanov, Director of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development and Director for Science at the HSE Centre for Technology Transfer (CTT): “The decision to deploy the new center at Skoltech, which has become a focal point for partnerships between the country’s leading agricultural centers, was driven by the mere desire to ensure sustainability and steady advancement of this unique project. This Center is the crown jewel of the technology transfer project and the foundation for all further technology transfer operations in pursuance of FAS’s precedent-setting decision on the Bayer and Monsanto merger. Other elements of the technology transfer, such as free transfer of germplasm and molecular breeding tools to Russian breeders, along with training are intended to bolster global competitiveness of the Russian breeding sector. However it is the human resources that will help our companies to effectively strengthen their positions in the global competition. As Russia faces an acute shortage of biotechnologists in agriculture, the Center offers advanced practice-oriented training to create a core workforce of skilled professionals who will teach others and share their knowledge with Russian companies, research centers, and universities.”

Laurent Gentzbittel, head of the Skoltech Digital Agriculture Laboratory and professor at Skoltech and l’Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse: «Biotechnologies, genomics and new computational methods are revolutionizing food production by leverage genetics and breeding to a new technological level. The agro-industry from the plant sector in Russia deserves to get the best of these new technologies, and shall take the stake of the global movement.

The Scientific Training Center for Plant Biotechnologies at Skoltech is delivering key insights to transform plant breeding and commodities production, and allowing the RF to benefit from the future opportunities in the agri-food sector. It also promotes deep interaction between companies and scientists to turn research into innovation within companies of the agri-food sector».

Roman Kulikov, deputy head of the Skoltech Digital Agriculture Laboratory: “Training is the Center’s primary objective. According to Skoltech, only 5 out of 54 agricultural universities teach essential skills in advanced biotechnology and scarcely a few dozen breeders are trained annually under existing programs.”

The Center has three main and three specialized training programs planned for the next two years.

Main programs:

  • Advanced Plant Breeding Technologies. A three-level advanced training program for breeders launched at Skoltech in January. Recruitment is open.
  • Biotechnology in Plant Breeding. A three-module program for breeders, geneticists, and biotechnologists, developed and delivered by the Institute of Cytology and Genetics and scheduled for April. Recruitment is open.
  • Lab workshops on cell and molecular technologies in plant breeding to be hosted by Timiryazev Academy in May and September. Recruitment is open.

Specialized programs:

  • Modern Methods of Plant Breeding. A summer school for undergraduate students co-hosted by Timiryazev Academy and Skoltech. The dates are to be defined. The application process will start shortly.
  • Classes for the faculty of agricultural universities focusing on modern teaching approaches in molecular breeding and plant biotechnology. The dates and recruitment details are to be defined.
  • Hands-on training session. Bayer experts will hand over industrial protocols of molecular and genomic technologies and teach Russian breeders basic handling skills. The dates and recruitment details are to be defined.

You can find more details about the programs and timetables and apply for a program at the Center’s website:

Since December, the Center has received a total of 113 applications. The first class consisted of 15 students. Recruitment is nearly complete for the spring programs. The recruited students are employees of private breeding companies and public educational and scientific organizations.

Skoltech has been designated as the main platform for the Center by the decision of the Supervisory Board of the HSE CTT based on the competitive selection conducted by CTT pursuant to the regulations approved by the Supervisory Board.


Contact information:
Skoltech Communications
+7 (495) 280 14 81

Share on VK