- Nexgen receives $1.5 million from Queensland Government BDF program
- Additional follow on investment of $1.5 million from existing investors Uniseed and Yuuwa Capital
- New CEO appointed to ramp-up international business development activities
Brisbane, Australia – 16 August 2018 – Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd, an Australian biotech company commercialising virus resistance and trait introduction technology in crops, has received a $1.5 million investment from the Queensland Business Development Fund (BDF), which has been matched by existing investors Uniseed, contributing $500,000 and Yuuwa Capital, contributing $1 million.
Nexgen Plants has also appointed Dr Philippe Herve as Chief Executive Officer to drive international business development activities. Philippe brings 20 years of international experience in the food and agriculture sector, having previously worked for Bayer Crop Science and plant genomics companies, Exelixis and CropDesign. Philippe will be based in France and will split his time between Europe/US and Australia.
Nexgen Plants is commercialising two novel platform technologies developed from research led by Professor Peer Schenk in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland. The first is the company’s INTtrait technology, which enables the rapid introduction of pathogen resistance, production traits and consumer traits in major food, fibre, energy and ornamental crops. INTtrait is gaining interest around the world as having advantages over existing gene editing technology such as CRISPR. The second is a virus-resistance technology, which is the only known approach to rapidly confer virus resistance to economically important crops.
“Uniseed has been a leader in supporting local research and innovation in Australian universities and Nexgen is a great example of the successful commercialisation of a local technology that has the potential for enormous social impact, both in Australia and around the world,” said John Kurek, Investment Manager at Uniseed. “With the appointment of a CEO with an international outlook we are now looking to partner with Australian and international organisations to promote and license the Nexgen breeding technology for use as an alternative to existing gene silencing techniques.”
Nexgen Plants recently received notification 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 U.S.
“Following the non-GM certification from the USDA, Nexgen is engaging with plant biotech companies and plant breeders in the US, Europe and Asia”, said Director Brian Ruddle. “With the investment from the BDF, Uniseed, and Yuuwa, and the appointment of a CEO with international industry experience, the company will now ramp up international business development, looking to expand global customer engagement through multinational clients such as Syngenta, which produces agrochemicals and seeds.”
Nexgen Plants has successfully completed projects with Syngenta and a major global food and beverage company and is currently engaging with others to enhance the creation of non-GM crops with new production, consumer and disease resistance traits.
The company is waiting on the Australian Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) review of new breeding techniques. The outcome of this review will determine if the Nexgen technology will be available to Australian farmers.
Yuuwa Capital Investment Director, Dr James Williams commented, “Nexgen has successfully delivered early commercial contracts with multinational partners. It is a great example of globally competitive innovation. Ongoing support will enable Nexgen to be recognised as an industry leader internationally and increase awareness of the depth of Australian research that will support improvements in agricultural productivity in a changing environment.”
Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said “Nexgen was an ideal candidate for Business Development Fund (BDF) investment. As the latest BDF investment, the independent panel of experts was impressed by Nexgen’s commercial potential, suggested by ongoing R&D and growing links with promising markets internationally, particularly in the United States.” She added, “The work being undertaken by Nexgen could be a game-changer for the global agricultural sector, reducing the uncertainty faced by farmers concerning diseased crops and potentially helping to improve crop yield, with knock-on benefits particularly for developing communities.”
Brian Ruddle, Managing Director, Nexgen Plants
+61 407 169979
John Kurek – Investment Manager, Uniseed
+61 400 551 431
+61 2 8016 2200
About Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd
The Nexgen technology was developed by professor Peer Schenk and his research team at the University of Queensland. Nexgen was formed in 2013 by UniQuest, the commercialisation company of the University of Queensland, and received seed funding from Yuuwa Capital and Uniseed. The company is implementing an extensive program to demonstrate the virus resistance and trait technology across a broad range of crop types and is progressively engaging with leading plant biotech companies around the world. For more information visit www.nexgenplants.com
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 the QLD Business Development Fund (BDF)
Queensland’s $80 million Business Development Fund (BDF) has supported more than 25 start-ups to help businesses turn their ideas and innovations into commercial realities, supporting new jobs and attracting new industries to Queensland. Investment decisions are made by an independent panel of experienced investors and investments range $125,000 to $2.5 million – which must be at least matched by a private sector co-investor. The BDF is part of which is a comprehensive suite of programs designed to create the knowledge-based jobs of the future, drive productivity improvements and build on Queensland’s natural advantages. . For further information on Queensland’s Business Development Fund visit https://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/growing-queensland/business-development-fund/
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.
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