Monsanto Company and Evogene Ltd. announced the extension and expansion of their research and development collaboration. The collaboration, initially signed in 2008 and later extended in 2011, has focused on identifying key plant genes related to yield, environmental stress and fertilizer utilization in corn, soybean, cotton and canola. The newly signed agreement extends these existing programs through to August 2016, and adds a new five year program for the identification of genes providing resistance to Stalk Rot disease in corn, caused by multiple Fusarium species. Fusarium is a family of fungi that causes significant yield loss across the world’s major crops.
"We are extremely pleased with Monsanto’s decision to again extend our excellent broad collaboration in the areas of yield and abiotic stress tolerance with respect to the four major field crops," said Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO. "The addition of a new discovery program focused on Fusarium resistance is another indication of Evogene’s growing commitment and activities targeted at biotic stress related conditions, and the broad applicability of our unique technology platform.”
“Agricultural innovation will be key to helping meet growing global demand,” added David Fischhoff, Monsanto Technology Strategy Development Lead. “Through the combination of Evogene’s gene discovery technologies with our company’s trait development expertise, this collaboration is focused on developing new tools that help farmers drive yields even further.”
Terms of the revised collaboration agreement include:
- Evogene will provide Monsanto with candidate genes that are predicted to improve yield, fertilizer utilization and plant resistance to environmental stress. Monsanto will receive exclusive license rights to develop and commercialize the candidate genes as part of Monsanto's trait pipelines for corn, soybean, canola, and cotton.
- Evogene will also provide Monsanto with candidate genes predicted to provide resistance to Stalk Rot disease caused by multiple Fusarium species. Monsanto will receive exclusive license rights to develop and commercialize the candidate genes as part of Monsanto’s trait pipeline for corn.
- For all collaboration programs, Evogene will utilize its ATHLETETM computational technology for gene discovery, and its Gene2ProductTM platform for optimizing trait efficacy and accelerating the product development process.
- Evogene will be entitled to receive both milestone payments and royalty payments for all successful candidate genes emerging from the collaboration that are developed and commercialized by Monsanto. Evogene will also receive additional research and development payments to support the increased activities.
The prior agreement included a put option giving Evogene the right, under defined conditions, to sell one million Evogene shares to Monsanto at $12 per share. The prior put option has been cancelled in exchange for an increase in all future milestone payments and royalty rates with respect to genes licensed by Evogene to Monsanto. The prior put option has been replaced with a new $12 million put option under which shares will be sold at market value at time of exercise (subject to set minimum and maximum prices).