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Nexgen Plants secures USDA approval

Posted 6 years ago

Impact Innovation Group congratulates Nexgen Plants on receiving notice from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that its salt tolerant rice variety is non-genetically modified (non-GM) and therefore does not fall under regulation requirements in the US.

This is a major milestone for the Brisbane-based start-up and University of Queensland spin-out, for which Impact Innovation provides CEO services.

“This means we can start helping rice farmers in the US with improved salt tolerant varieties in the near future,” said Brian Ruddle, CEO of Nexgen Plants (and managing director of Impact Innovation Group).

“The US is a major rice exporter, with the global market accounting for nearly half the annual sales volume of US-produced rice, according to the USDA, so this is certainly a big step forward for the company.

“Nexgen’s salt tolerant line was developed using a non-GM breeding technology that introduces desired production traits into crops. It aims to help farmers worldwide focus on selectively breeding stronger versions of crops, and allows it plants to develop strong defence responses to environmental pathogens or stresses.

“This offers farmers the potential for improved yields, and plant breeding companies a unique competitive advantage for boosting seed and/or plant productivity and sales,” Mr Ruddle said.

Crop loss caused by environmental stress or pathogens such as viruses is a multi-billion dollar global problem. Nexgen Plants’ solution is a technology that provides a new proprietary intragenic (non-GM) breeding technique to deliver new traits, without introducing any foreign DNA.

The technology uses the plant’s own genetic material, modifying it with an INTtrait approach and then generating new varieties that exhibit disease resistance and other economically important traits. The process essentially replicates and speeds up natural breeding.

Nexgen Plants recently completed two commercial contracts for virus resistance traits with global agricultural company Syngenta and a major food and beverage multinational.

Nexgen Plants’ investors view the USDA verification as another significant step in the commercialisation of the Nexgen breeding technology since the start-up successfully raised A$2 million in early stage seed funding from Uniseed and Yuuwa Capital.

“It’s important that we begin to support, mentor and invest in more local research projects. This way all the important research that goes on in local universities can be transformed into real-world solutions through start-up companies and go on to help solve big problems facing Australia now and in the future,” said Peter Devine, CEO of Uniseed.

The technology underpinning Nexgen Plants emerged from Professor Peer Schenk’s research at The University of Queensland and was licensed to the start-up company by UniQuest, the University’s main commercialisation company.

Nexgen Plants now awaits similar approval from the Australian Government’s Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.

“If the Committee confirms that Nexgen Plants’ INTtrait technology does not need to be regulated, Australian rice farmers can look forward to improved salt tolerant varieties in the near future. Nexgen will then start work on a number of other disease problems facing Australian farmers,” Mr Ruddle said.

About Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd
The Nexgen technology was developed by Professor Peer Schenk and his research team at The University of Queensland. The Company was formed in 2013 and received seed funding from Yuuwa Capital and Uniseed. The company is implementing an extensive program to demonstrate the virus resistance technology across a broad range of crop and virus types and is progressively engaging with leading plant biotech companies around the world. For more information visit www.nexgenplants.com

About Uniseed
Uniseed is a successful Australian early stage commercialisation fund that makes investments in research emanating from five of Australia’s leading research organisations – The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne and the CSIRO. The fund represents these five stakeholders to identify and invest in the most promising opportunities within their institutions. We are a mutual fund, owned by research organisations, for research organisations. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of research partner -generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. For more information, visit www.uniseed.com

About Yuuwa Capital
Yuuwa Capital is a $40M early-stage venture capital firm based in Perth, Western Australia. Yuuwa invests in outstanding opportunities where Yuuwa can provide both capital and expertise to help founders, management and early investors build great companies. Yuuwa invests in early stage companies principally in the areas of Life Sciences and Information and Communications Technology. Yuuwa Capital’s formation in 2009 was supported by private investors and also by the Australian Federal Government’s Innovation Investment Fund program. For more information, visit www.yuuwa.com.au.

About UniQuest
UniQuest is Australia’s leading university commercialising entity, managing the intellectual property of The University of Queensland. We benchmark in the top 10 percent globally for university-based technology transfer offices. As a result, UQ generates more license income than the rest of the Group of Eight universities combined. Since 1984, UniQuest has built, commercialised and managed an extensive intellectual property portfolio, including more than 100 spin-out companies resulting from university-based discoveries. Since 2002, UniQuest and its spin-out companies have raised more than A$600 million to help take UQ technologies to market. Gross sales of products using UQ technology licensed by UniQuest total more than $15.5 billion since 2007. Among others, UniQuest was responsible for commercialising the HPV vaccine Gardasil®, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, the image correction technology used in two-thirds of the world’s MRI machines, and a potential new treatment for pain through spin-out company Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd – a biopharmaceutical company acquired recently in one of Australia’s largest ever biotech deals. For more information, visit www.uniquest.com.au