Building on the success of their collaboration in wheat breeding, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL) and Bayer CropScience are working together again—this time to develop new soybean varieties. NUtech Ventures, the technology commercialization arm of the University, signed a nonexclusive license agreement with Bayer CropScience on May 1, 2013.

This university-industry collaboration focuses on UNL's soybean germplasm, the genetic material used to develop new soybean varieties. As with the previous wheat deal, the agreement goes well beyond a traditional license to intellectual property.

A major goal of the collaborative work with Bayer CropScience will be to improve yield and develop new soybean traits for growers in Nebraska and throughout the world. The agreement will also provide additional research experience and training for graduate and undergraduate students.

"This agreement is an excellent example of industry-university collaboration, with exchanged germplasm, student internships and scholarships," said David Conrad, Executive Director of NUtech. "The agreement also provides funds to endow a Presidential Chair in soybean breeding, which will ensure long-term sustainability of soybean research at UNL. Skilled soybean breeders are in high demand at companies like Bayer CropScience, so we are pleased that this collaboration will support the training of new breeders."

Bayer CropScience can couple its significant R&D resources with the materials developed at UNL to create new lines of soybean varieties suitable for diverse climate conditions across the world.

"We are happy to partner with the UNL soybean breeding program to help deliver Bayer traits," said Chris Tinius, Global Soybean Breeding Director, Bayer CropScience. "The UNL program is known for its long track record of releasing high-yielding varieties, and by showcasing our traits in these superior varieties, we hope to bring even greater value to soybean farmers across the Midwest."

"The non-exclusive agreement with Bayer CropScience is generous in recognizing the needs and encouraging the broader benefits to University programs, Nebraska, and the industry as a whole," said George Graef (pictured), Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture at UNL. "I feel honored to be involved in this and excited about what we will achieve."

Graef noted that support from the Nebraska Soybean Board has, for the past 25 years, provided the foundation for UNL's soybean breeding and genetics research and development program. "It is with support from the soybean growers through the Nebraska Soybean Board that we have been able to develop the high-quality soybean breeding program that we have today," he added.

"UNL's robust soybean research program will grow even stronger from the partnership with Bayer CropScience, through advancements in our research enterprise and the creation of additional educational opportunities," said Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Harlan Vice Chancellor.

"The soybean industry is big business in Nebraska, with over 207 million bushels grown each year. We are excited about the current opportunities this agreement establishes for the soybean industry in Nebraska and even more excited about the future impact our partnership will have on our state, region and world," Green said.