What is an ITN?
Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc. (FFSP) and the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (FAES) utilize the ITN Process in cultivar licensing.
Newly developed cultivars, experimental lines, and plant germplasm are routinely approved for release through the University of Florida’s FAES. FFSP, a non-profit corporation and direct support organization of the University of Florida (UF), is continuously seeking strategic production and marketing companies in the trial and commercialization of a diverse portfolio of newly developed plant cultivars.
For certain crops, several companies may express interest in an opportunity for an exclusive license for an improved plant cultivar. The ITN, implemented in 2006, is a process which enables FFSP to fairly and objectively evaluate all proposals and comments to effectively identify superior companies to deliver new cultivars to the public. In return, licensed companies will provide royalties back to FFSP for reinvestment in the breeding and development of new and improved cultivars at the FAES.
The four principles of the ITN process, in order of importance, are:
- What is good for the State of Florida and its people?
- What is good for the University of Florida and UF/IFAS?
- What is good for the breeding program and the breeder(s)?
- What is good for world food security?
All proposals and comments are objectively and confidentially evaluated. All four principles must be addressed at all levels of the ITN Process.
The ITN process encourages an open engagement of all interested companies and stakeholders. Companies submitting proposals and/or comments to an ITN will be evaluated consistently and fairly by a review committee comprised of staff members of FFSP and expert faculty advisors from FAES.
The use of the ITN is triggered when a commercial entity communicates its wishes to engage in a new business opportunity for contracting plant germplasm or a plant cultivar by a limited exclusive license arrangement.
On the other hand, standard term non-exclusive licenses for released cultivars are also commonly awarded to multiple qualified companies or individual growers over a wide region. Non-exclusive licenses (multiple award of license) generally are not required to go through the ITN process.
FFSP strives to secure the partner/partners that best meet the needs of the State of Florida and its people, UF, and the FAES breeding program. Respondents to the ITN will be evaluated using a consistent methodology, allowing review committee members to weigh core elements and objectively evaluate multiple proposals. The ITN specifications objectively guide critical responses in a proposal and are designed to explore the project’s scope for a sustainable model, consistent with the necessity to deliver FAES plant breeding products and technology to the public. The ITN requires interested companies to describe their prior experience and current business model. Companies are asked to describe a plan of action concerning the new trial or commercialization opportunity. The ITN also requests details of marketing and production plans which will successfully deliver a sound commercial operation and ensure that sustaining royalties are returned to support the FAES breeding program. Initiation of an ITN and the participation by a company in an ITN process does not mean an exclusive agreement or exclusive agreements will be eventually awarded; only that responsive companies will receive consideration and a fair evaluation of proposals and comments submitted.
At the conclusion of the ITN process, it is everyone’s hope that most details can be mutually agreed upon, resulting in an award of a license to a qualified and successful partner.