Monsanto Company and Evogene Ltd. announced this week a one-year extension to their five-year research and development collaboration focused on identifying key plant genes related to yield, environmental stress and fertilizer utilization in corn, soybean, cotton and canola. The companies recently announced the successful completion of the collaboration's third year.
The collaboration's gene discovery activities to date have been based on Evogene's ATHLETE™ computational technology. As part of the extension, Evogene will add its Gene2Product™ computational technologies to its gene discovery program, offering an additional approach for enhancing trait efficacy and the development of candidate genes identified under the collaboration.
Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO stated, "We are delighted by this extension of our joint work with Monsanto and in particular with the addition of our Gene2Product computational technologies. We expect that by bringing together Monsanto's development expertise and these new Evogene technologies, in addition to those already utilized in the collaboration, the companies will be able to further address some of the key challenges that the seed industry is facing in the discovery and development process for biotechnology products in agriculture."
"Continued agricultural innovation is the key to meeting growing global demand, which is why productive collaborations like this one are critical," added Bob Reiter, Vice President and Global Lead of Biotechnology for Monsanto Company. "By combining Evogene's innovative gene discovery technologies with Monsanto's trait development expertise, we'll ultimately be able to better deliver products to help farmers increase their productivity."
Additional terms of the collaboration include:
- Evogene will continue to provide Monsanto with candidate genes discovered by Evogene's computational technologies that are predicted to improve yield, fertilizer utilization and a plant's reaction to environmental stress. The genes will be validated by Evogene in model plants.
- Monsanto receives exclusive license rights to such candidate genes delivered by Evogene for use in corn, soybean, canola, and cotton.
- As stated above, Evogene will now begin to apply its Gene2Product™ computational technologies to optimize trait efficacy and the product development process. Evogene will receive additional research payments related to this addition to the collaboration.
- Successful candidate genes that emerge from the collaboration will be commercialized by Monsanto through its branded seed and trait licensing businesses, with Evogene entitled to receive both development milestone payments and royalties.
As part of the original agreement, Monsanto agreed, via a put option exercisable by Evogene, to invest $12 million toward additional equity in Evogene. This arrangement remains in place under a new put option that is exercisable at $12 per share at a later date.