Live Challenges

Designing fluorine substitutes to accelerate the future of agrochemical innovati...

Portrait Vlad Pascanu

"Our ambition is to equip the discovery scientists of tomorrow with the right tools to design high-performance agrochemicals that are less reliant on fluorinated substituents, no matter what the requirements of the future will be."

Vlad Pascanu, Principal Scientist Crop Protection Research Chemistry


Syngenta is seeking organisations with capabilities, tools, data and/or platforms that enable the fluorine-efficient design of new agro-chemical products.

The key goal of this effort is to generate robust, predictive models built on high quality data to understand how per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can be substituted in Syngenta’s product lines and research pipeline.

Fluorination is extensively used in both agrochemical and drug design because of the unique ability of fluorine atoms to modulate the biokinetic profile of bioactive molecules. Synthetic methodologies for installing fluorine into complex molecules have also become increasingly precise and affordable, facilitating the wide adoption of fluorinated groups to improve in vivo performance.

However, emerging regulatory trends have led to increased scrutiny of all fluorinated compounds, regardless of their demonstrated properties. For example, a class-based ban of all non-essential PFAS has been recently proposed in the EU, which would compromise the continued use of many fluorinated bioactive molecules.

Syngenta is seeking to better understand how fluorine substituents impact a molecule’s biokinetic profile and ultimately the in vivo translation. This will help us reduce and potentially eliminate the use of per-and poly-fluorinated functional groups in new agrochemical products. To do this end, we must better understand the fluorine effect on individual physicochemical and biokinetic parameters.

Challenge details:

  • Closing date:

    30 September 2023

What we're looking for

Key to success will be identifying organizations with capabilities, tools, data and or platforms to help us generate robust predictive models to help us understand how per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can be substituted in Syngenta’s product lines and research pipeline.  

These organizations should have access to an extensive collection of (poly)fluorinated compounds with known biological activity (agro- and drug-like), covering a wide diversity of chemical space.

The compounds should be free from functional groups of known toxicological concerns and the fluorinated group should not be part of the pharmacophore (i.e. ligand-receptor interaction).

For each such compounds we would need the partner to generate match pair sets, systematically replacing the fluorinated groups with substituents of various stereo-electronic properties from which high quality data around the specified physicochemical and biokinetic parameters can be measured measured to help us understand the fundamental basis for bioisosterism and to enable model development.

  • Physicochemical parameters (compound dependent):
    • logP, pKa, aqueous and organic solubility
  • Biokinetic parameters (model system dependent):
    • Passive cellular uptake, oxidative metabolism, efflux
  • Environmental parameters:
    • KOC (organic carbon-water partition coefficient) measured by HPLC
  • Physicochemical parameters (compound dependent):
    • Photosensitivity, Hydrolytic stability (acidic / neutral / basic pH)
  • Biokinetic parameters (model system dependent):
    • Nonspecific protein binding, other metabolic pathways/liabilities, distribution and accumulation in planta.
  • Environmental parameters:
    • KOC by soil adsorption, soil DT50 half-life, root uptake

What we can offer you

Collaborator of choice

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Funding and backing

We are able to fund selected projects to drive toward commercialization through our global footprint. We'll discuss with you how best we can take forward your technology or research together

New avenues and opportunities

Shared passion to tackle agriculture’s most complex challenges, increase innovation, and advance more sustainable agriculture

Work with us to help with our challenge

Our people are specialists: they are innovators, scientists, engineers, technologists, regulatory experts and data scientists in multiple fields.