The 2010 Independent Plant Breeder's Conference (IPBC) --- co-hosted by G2 and Longwood Gardens --- occurred in early November, 2010 in the Conservatory at Longwood. This was the 4th IPBC, and the first to be located outside of the southeastern U.S.
How did it go? Incredibly well.
Attendance was great --- over 140 total participants. There were about 30 legitimate independent plant breeders, plus about an equal number of industry and academic breeders, plus marketing and licensing professionals, plus interested folks from industry, academia, botanic gardens, and arboreta. The interactions which occurred among and between these clusters was simply wonderful. I hate the word "networking", but that concept is one of the more important activities which occurs at an IPBC, and the networking at the 2010 IPBC was great.
The content was just about perfect. For a group as diverse as this one, it was a challenge to structure the agenda and speaker list. Our intent was to use a topical, panelist format as a starting point for more in-depth discussions. For the 2010 IPBC, we feel that this structure worked reasonably well. There were definitely sessions that could have used more discussion time, but in general, the content and structure worked well.
The facilities at Longwood Gardens are superb. Longwood graciously allowed us access to the Conservatory after-hours, so that the IPBC participants could enjoy the Conservatory and the 2010 Chrysanthemum Festival as though it were our private showing. The Conservatory in the evening is an absolutely enchanted world, and was certainly one of the highlights of the Conference.
Geoff Needham from PlantHaven was the keynote speaker for the 2010 IPBC. Geoff challenged all of us to consider the necessity of changing the U.S. Plant Patent system to come into greater conformity with the remainder of the world. Yes, the current U.S. system is quick and easy. However, it is not in step with Plant Breeders Rights around the world, and this becomes a serious limitation to global licensing and distribution. If Geoff's intent was to generate discussion --- and it clearly was --- I suspect that he succeeded beyond his expectations. The post-keynote discussions continued for many hours, and in many cases, were quite animated.
The 2010 organizing committee asked the participants to complete a survey about the Conference. Completion rates for the survey were amzingly high. I will be posting the survey results here during the next few weeks.
As is traditional for the IPBCs, we closed with a discussion about how the IPBCs have worked in the past. There is no formal structure. We simply ask for someone --- preferably an indepedent breeder --- to volunteer to organize the next IPBC. For 2012, Dan Heims from TerraNova Numseries volunteered to host the next IPBC in the Pacific Northwest.
Thanks, Dan. To Portland in 2012!