University Economic Development Association


Cultivar Development Research Program

Award Category: Innovation
Project Site: Cultivar Development Research Program
Submitted By: University of Georgia
Contact: Derek E. Eberhart, PhD, 706.542.2207

Case Study

Ensuring sustainable sources of funding for high-priority research areas with potential for significant economic impact requires innovative forethought, particularly in the research sectors where external funding is limited and highly competitive. The Cultivar Development Research Program (CDRP) at the University of Georgia (UGA) addresses a ubiquitous problem experienced by all plant breeders working in the public sector, a lack of funding to support traditional plant breeding research activities. The CDRP is an internal grant program funded entirely by the licensing royalty revenue derived from UGA-developed plant cultivars. Since 1997, the CDRP has provided almost $20 million in grant funding resulting in the generation of over 300 novel plant cultivars.

Developing new plant cultivars for food, feed, fiber, and recreation produces significant societal and economic benefits that help fulfill UGA’s mission as a land-grant university. Cultivars generated through CDRP funding have had a tremendous impact on Georgia’s $73 billion agriculture industry, helping Georgia become the number one state for peanut, blueberry and pecan production. Furthermore, the CDRP simultaneously serves as an effective tool in attracting and retaining top-tier plant breeding scientists to UGA who continue to produce cultivars that provide a constant royalty revenue stream to sustain the CDRP fund. While the CDRP at UGA focuses on plant cultivars, other universities could adopt a similar approach to fund high-priority research areas by providing initial seed funding and then dedicating a percentage of royalty revenues to fund grants supporting that research area.

Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Milwaukee on October 22 and 23, 2018. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.