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Nexgen Plants salt tolerant rice variety approved as non-genetically modified by USDA

Brisbane, Australia – 10 May 2018 ¬– Nexgen Plants Pty Limited has received notification from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that its salt tolerant rice variety is non-genetically modified (non-GM) and does not fall under regulation requirements in the U.S.

The salt tolerant line has been developed using a non-GM breeding technology to introduce desired production traits into crops. It aims to help farmers worldwide to focus on selectively breeding stronger versions of crops and allows 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.

“Crop losses caused by environmental stress or pathogens such as viruses are a multi-billion dollar global problem. Nexgen Plants’ technology provides a new proprietary intragenic (non-GM) breeding technique to deliver new traits, without ever introducing any foreign DNA,” said Brian Ruddle, CEO of Nexgen Plants.

“This allows us to use the plants own genetic material, modify it using our INTtrait approach – where no foreign DNA is incorporated into the plant, and then generate new varieties that exhibit disease resistance and other economically important traits. We are essentially replicating natural breeding – just speeding it up.”

The USDA verification is another significant step in the commercialisation of the Nexgen breeding technology, since it 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, Uniseed.

The technology which underpins Nexgen Plants came out of Prof. Peer Schenk’s research at the University of Queensland and was licensed to the start-up company by UniQuest, the commercialisation company of UQ.”

Nexgen Plants is now awaiting confirmation from the Australian Government’s Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, verifying that its salt tolerant line is not genetically modified.

“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,” said Ruddle.

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

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

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