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The Business Case for New Variety Development

The Business Case for New Variety Development describes the elements necessary for plant breeders to be able to create a compelling case for investment in demand-led plant breeding to put to R&D management, government officials, and financial investors. This includes identifying the benefits and intended beneficiaries of a proposed new breeding program or project; understanding the principles of return on investment; and clarifying whether the investment in demand-led breeding can be justified in terms of the likely economic, social and environmental benefits versus the costs of developing a new variety.

Benefits and investment cases


Greater emphasis is placed on analyzing and creating compelling business cases, by identifying and communicating the full breadth of quantitative and qualitative economic, social and environmental benefits that will become available for clients and stakeholders by investing in the proposed demand-led plant breeding program. The critical issues are:

  • Compelling business cases: It is critical to understand the clients to be served by a plant breeding program, as the basis to create new varieties that have benefits for all clients in the value chain and which deliver an attractive return on investment. A broader and deeper understanding of the range of costs necessary to develop demand-led varieties is also required. These are the essential elements to create business investment cases that are persuasive to government officials, private and public investors, and other stakeholders in order to secure and retain support for a demand-led breeding program.

  • Investment case: Clarity is required on the rationale and justification for proceeding with a demand-led breeding program. Investment cases are always assumption-based. The quality of the case comes from detailed analysis of the benefits, performance assumptions, including questioning their probability and understanding their sensitivity to factors such as level of farmer adoption, choice of varieties available, and changing variety development costs.

  • Communication: Creating a compelling investment case that is understandable and persuasive to government officials, investors and stakeholders is critical to be able to secure and retain support for a demand-led breeding program.

  •  Return on investment: Governments, R&D managers, and investors need to appreciate that breeding programs can provide a return on investment rather than only being seen as a budget cost. Managers need to encourage an investment decision-making culture rather than a budget spending one within breeding programs. This can be achieved by tracking adoption and benefits accrued from new varieties rather than only monitoring the number of varieties developed by the breeding teams that are registered for release.

  • The business of plant breeding: Demand-led breeding combines the best practices in market-led, new variety design with innovative breeding methods and integrates these with the best practices in business

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