Dr. George Kotch started his career as a commercial plant breeder in 1987 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics. He served in several senior positions leading breeding teams at H. M Clause as Vice President of R&D (Americas & Pacific ) and Head of Global Vegetable Seed R&D at Syngenta. There, Dr. Kotch directed of all aspects of Syngenta’s global vegetable research and development program, covering 20 crops, from strategy development to global implementation and oversaw a team of over 800 employees. Dr. Kotch left the private sector to bring his skillset to enhance the capacity of Asian and African national breeding programs focused on agricultural innovation for food security. He was the head of breeding at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, before joining the Excellence in Breeding Platform which allowed him to help modernize CGIAR and National Breeding Programs in low and medium-low income countries. Along the way, created two start-up companies and assisted as technical advisory/fundraiser for a third, and served as visiting industry scientist at both UC Davis and N.C. State, helping to build public/private partnerships.