Evogene Ltd., a leading company for the improvement of crop productivity and economics for the food, feed and biofuel industries, announced it has signed a Letter of Intent with plans to establish a research and development facility in the Bio-Research and Development Growth (BRDG) Park, developed by Wexford Science & Technology, a BioMed Realty Company, on the campus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo. The establishment of the facility is a key component of the company's previously disclosed entry into the field of advanced solutions for insect control. Evogene previously projected an expenditure of approximately $10 million in order to broaden its existing predictive discovery and validation capabilities into this substantial field.
The facility will be headed by James Presnail, Ph.D. who was appointed to lead the company's insect control research and development activities at the new facility. Presnail previously held senior management positions at DuPont Pioneer and brings to Evogene two decades of in-depth knowledge and experience in the planning, execution and management of insecticidal gene discovery and efficacy testing.
The approximately 6,000 square foot facility will feature state-of-the-art laboratories and insect rearing rooms and is projected to be fully operational by the end of 2015. It will support Evogene's growing insect control activities, initially focusing on the Company's on-going product programs for corn rootworm and soybean aphids. The planned facility will incorporate both field specific modifications of the Company's existing gene testing and validation infrastructure and new capabilities for targeting these and other high impact pests. In addition, the facility will help facilitate the Company's field-based data generation activities in the United States. In support of its selection of St. Louis for its R&D facility, Evogene has been offered a strategic economic incentive package from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
Ofer Haviv, Evogene president and CEO stated: "The establishment of this new facility and the addition of Jim to our team will clearly take Evogene to a new level in the important area of insect control, a level which we hope will soon be similar to the leadership position we have already established in the area of yield and stress tolerance. In the short term, we are confident that this substantial strengthening of our assets and business propositions in insect control will now allow us to rapidly expand and accelerate our activities in this area, both on our own and through additional collaborations. In doing so, we are very pleased to expand our R&D operations to St. Louis, and to have the benefit of Jim's extensive knowledge and management experience in insecticidal gene discovery and development."
Haviv concluded: "Our choice to locate at BRDG Park on the Danforth Center campus, a world leader in plant science research, is one we are very proud of as we join this innovative community. Being a company that is committed to the improvement of crop productivity, we share the Danforth Center's belief that plants hold the key to discoveries and products that will enrich and restore both the environment and the lives of people around the globe."