Global Plant Genetics firm wins £30,000 grant from Innovate UK to find new markets

Rupert Hargreaves (right) of Global Plant Genetics, looking at new selections of blueberries with on

Rupert Hargreaves (right) of Global Plant Genetics, looking at new selections of blueberries with one of the Norfolk firm's plant breeders in the USA. - Credit: Global Plant Genetics

A Norfolk-based intellectual property company has secured a £30,000 grant to take its portfolio of berry and asparagus varieties into new international markets.

Global Plant Genetics, based in Brancaster in north-west Norfolk, manages intellictual property (IP) on behalf of some of the world's leading plant breeders as they work to improve the taste, yield and shelf life of crops including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

The firm helps breeders trial new varieties, and secures legal protection for those deemed to have commercial potential.

The grant, awarded by Innovate UK, will allow the 18-month-old firm to conduct a feasibility study into the global value of its portfolio, and much of the money will be used towards the travel costs associated with setting up an international network.

Director Rupert Hargreaves will be travelling to South Africa on Monday to begin the process, with the firm also looking for potential commercial partners in Russia, China, and South and Central America.

'This grant money will allow us to effectively fast-track the international distribution of the trials material into new territories,' he said. 'It is not until the commercial arrangements have been concluded and the new varieties have proven themselves in each and every location, that the true value of the IP can be determined.

'We are looking for comercial partners, and it could be anything from a very large individual grower to a nursery, or a fruit shipping and marketing company.

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'IP is an investment in the sense that it takes time and money to travel to get the inbound licences from the breeders, to assess and evaluate the new varieties they have, and to decide whether they have commercial potential. We then incur legal costs in two directions and there is a large amount of travel involved because this is a very international business, so Innovate UK coming up with this grant is a springboard for a business like ours.'

Mr Hargreaves said the growth in popularity of berries and asparagus within the fruit and vegetable sectors offered opportunities for the business.

'The consumption of berries and apsaragus is enjoying phenomenal growth globally and the pressure is on to offer the grower and the logistics chain improved varieties,' he said. 'We need to be at the sharp end of that to find new varieties, improve the supply chain and take royalties on behalf of the breeder, and our own business too.'