Evogene Ltd., a leading company for the improvement of crop productivity and economics for the food, feed and biofuel industries, announced the expansion of its crop protection activities with the completion of dedicated facilities to support research and development activities for the company’s product programs focusing on fungi, insect and weed control. The field of crop protection is a major focus of growth and expansion for Evogene where it looks to develop novel seed traits as well as seed external solutions for these areas.
Over the past year, Evogene significantly increased its activities in the area of crop protection. In late 2013, as part of its multi-year collaboration with Monsanto, the company announced a new product program targeting Stalk Rot disease caused by various fungi species. In April of this year, Evogene disclosed its entry into the area of plant insect resistance and control with initial activities focusing on developing seed traits displaying resistance to two key insects, corn rootworm and soybean aphids. With respect to weed control, the company recently announced that it anticipates completing during 2015 a start-to-end molecular discover platform for the development of chemical herbicides based on novel “modes of action.”
The newly completed facilities support these new and increased areas of activity, and are part of Evogene’s previously disclosed expectation to invest approximately $10 million over the next few years to expand its existing knowledge base, computational platforms, and testing and validation capabilities.
“This expansion demonstrates our strategic commitment to strengthening our internal R&D capabilities in key areas within the crop protection field where there is a dire need for new solutions,” commented Ofer Haviv, Evogene President and CEO. “Our substantially expanded capabilities in this area, including these new dedicated facilities, will provide Evogene with significantly greater in-house capacity for discovery, testing and evaluation of promising genes and chemical compounds. More importantly, we anticipate that leveraging our unique underlying discovery capabilities with this enhanced and expanded infrastructure will lead to important new product opportunities for fungi, insect and weed control.”
About the new facilities:
The new research facilities, located in the vicinity of the Company’s headquarters in Rehovot, Israel, will feature three separate state-of-the-art laboratories and will join Evogene’s existing 380,000 square-feet of research and development facilities in Israel, which today include dedicated tissue culture and molecular laboratories, 36 greenhouses for gene validation and propagation in model plants, and testing fields.
The new facilities will be staffed by research experts in the fields of plant science, entomology, microbiology and chemistry. The overall crop protection research and development activities will be led by Dr. Eyal Emmanuel, who was recently appointed as Executive Vice President R&D Crop Protection.
The highly equipped laboratory space will enable advanced screening and validation for both biology and chemistry research. The facilities will also host additional server rooms to support the company’s recent expansion of its computing grid to over 1,000 CPU’s. The expanded backbone capability adds over 30% more bandwidth to Evogene’s already substantial computing power.