The new center, based in Porto Nacional, is expected to be fully operational by 2008. According to DuPont, it will help accelerate its global research efforts as well as allow it to bring genetics and traits to market faster. "This new center will further strengthen our leadership position in Brazil and around the world," said Dean Oestreich, DuPont vice president and general manager and Pioneer Hi-Bred president. "We're confident the opportunities in agriculture will continue to grow in Brazil, including the expansion in soybean production, the transition from low technology to high technology corn production and new biotechnology traits," he said The new research center will focus on winter nursery capabilities for corn and soybean breeding, drought tolerance and heat stress research, as well as local product development efforts, said the agricultural firm. According to DuPont, the facility will be instrumental in bringing new hybrids to market faster as a centralized site for doubled haploid inbred development - an approach that accelerates product advancement. The research center, which is planting its first crop this month, is part of a $100m reinvestment plan announced earlier this year. The plan is designed to increase the firm's innovation and meet growing demand for grain. It includes the addition of more than 400 positions, mainly in research and development in Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. The reinvestment comes after an aggressive reorganization strategy in the firm's nutrition and crop protection businesses. Announced in December 2006, this involved closing or streamlining 10 plants and slashing 1,500 jobs globally. According to DuPont, its Pioneer business will be expanding R&D efforts at 67 of its 92 research centers worldwide. New positions will be filled by redeploying current employees from other DuPont businesses and outside hiring. Rivals Monsanto and BASF also recently announced plans to increase R&D efforts. The two firms last month entered into a research and development agreement that aims to pool the companies' resources in an effort to bring a greater number of traits to the market at a faster speed. The two companies said they will dedicate a joint budget of potentially $1.5bn to fund a pipeline of yield and stress tolerance traits for corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. The joint pipeline will include the companies' existing and planned yield and stress tolerance programs and be comprised of projects generated by independent plant biotechnology discovery and research from each company.