University of California strawberry cultivar UC9

A new University of California strawberry cultivar known as UC9

The University of California (UC Davis) has entered into a master agreement with UK-based company Global Plant Genetics (GPG) that will see the latter become a sublicensee for new strawberry varieties developed by the institution in selected countries within Europe, the Mediterranean and South America.

The agreement opens a new chapter for the world-renowned UC Davis and its Public Strawberry Breeding Program. Last year, it won a highly publicised legal case against two former employees over intellectual property ownership relating to varieties they had helped to develop in their time at the university.

The new agreement with will see GPG work with UC Davis researchers, plant nurseries and fruit producers to test the commercial potential of new strawberry varieties in certain markets.

If the parties then agree to move forward with the commercial roll-out of a variety in those countries or regions, GPG will implement and manage licensing of the varieties to growers for production, distribution and eventual sale.

It is understood that the new arrangement will not have any bearing on the university’s current licensing programme for the California strawberry industry.

“I greatly appreciate the effort everyone has put into creating this partnership,” said Professor Steve Knapp, director of the breeding programme. “The dedicated and professional team at GPG will provide the university with a strong and well established business for delivering newly developed UC Davis cultivars to several important international markets.”

Rupert Hargreaves, director of GPG, commented: “We are truly excited to be representing the world’s number-one strawberry breeding programme. The quality of plant breeding, access to modern science, huge gene pool and impressive team of people give us confidence that varieties from this programme will be at the forefront of international strawberry production for many years to come.”

GPG was apparently selected by UC Davis because of its unique knowledge of the strawberry industry as well as its expertise in plant intellectual property management.

The terms of any individual licenses undertaken as part of the agreement will be defined once the commercial potential of individual varieties has been determined. The term of the agreement is for ten years.

Dushyant Pathak, associate vice-chancellor of Technology Management and Corporate Relations at the UC Davis Office of Research, said the university had significantly enhanced the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program to foster development of the next generation of commercially successful strawberry varieties.

“Tapping GPG’s network in the berry industry and its experience with licensing high-value plant varieties will help deliver our new varieties to nurseries and fruit producers in important growing regions around the world,” he said.