[ASC-media] CLIMATE CHANGE GRANT TO WA BIOTECH COMPANY: NemGenix media release
brendon at iinet.net.au
Wed Jan 13 03:29:46 CET 2010
NemGenix Media Release -- January 13, 2010
CLIMATE CHANGE GRANT
TO WA BIOTECH COMPANY
NemGenix Pty Ltd., Western Australias only genetically modified (GM) crop
trait development company, has been awarded a $386,000 grant by the
Australian Governments Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and
Research under its Climate Ready funding program, which supports
innovative solutions to climate change challenges.
NemGenix is one of only four grant recipients from WA in this fourth funding
round and the only one nationwide to receive support to work on crop
NemGenix won its funding to work on drought tolerance in biofuel crops, with
a focus on developing a GM crop trait that can be incorporated in sugarcane
to provide resistance to plant parasitic nematodes. These small, thread-like
organisms devastate root systems, dramatically limiting water and nutrient
uptake and annually cause $167billion losses globally across all crop
Sugarcane, the worlds leading biofuel crop, is the focus of the NemGenix
work, as it is highly susceptible to plant parasitic nematodes, with yield
reductions of up to 20% recorded in Australia. Sugarcane also has
particularly high water requirements, consuming as much as all of the world
s fruit and vegetable crops (WHO, 2005).
Commenting on the work, NemGenix Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Mike
Jones, said that despite the enormous losses caused by plant parasitic
nematodes, very little has been done to develop nematode resistant crops.
Instead, agriculture has relied on control by highly toxic pesticides, or
otherwise has just tolerated the losses.
A healthy root system is essential for effective water and nutrient uptake.
Without it the effects of reduced rainfall conditions associated with
climate change will be far more severe, Professor Jones said.
The NemGenix work uses state-of-the-art molecular technologies to tackle a
devastating root pathogen in a way that can be applied to many other biofuel
and food crops.
Commenting on the grant, NemGenix Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sean Hird,
said the grant follows the NemGenix success last July with securing a major
research and development contract with Dow AgroSciences and caps off a great
year for the company.
This last funding round under Climate Ready had more applications than
any previous round. This success reflects the growing recognition of our
capabilities and the emergence of NemGenix as a leading Australian
biotechnology company, Dr Hird said.
Approved by NemGenix & issued on its behalf by
Brendon Cant & Associates, Tel (+61) 8 93841122
For more information contact:
Corporate - Dr Sean Hird, CEO: Mob, (+61) 0429 095 898
Scientific - Prof Mike Jones, CSO: Mob, (+61) 0414 239 428
Notes to Editors
Climate Change Funding Initiatives (www.ausindustry.gov.au/ClimateChange)
The Climate Ready Program was one of the three elements of the Clean
Business Australia initiative. The other elements, which are continuing, are
Re-Tooling for Climate Change and the Green Building Fund.
The Australian Government established Clean Business Australia as a
partnership with Australian business and industry for tackling climate
change. Clean Business Australia will support a range of activities aimed at
improving our energy and water efficiency and increasing sustainability,
with a focus on productivity and innovation.
The Climate Ready program was a competitive grants program providing grants
from $50,000 up to $5m on a matching funding basis to support research and
development, proof-of-concept and early-stage commercialisation activities
to develop solutions to climate change challenges. The fourth and final
round of applications closed on 25 June 2009 and the award to NemGenix was
made pursuant to that round.
NemGenix Pty Ltd (www.nemgenix.com)
NemGenix is a privately held agricultural biotechnology company working on
the control of plant parasitic nematodes. The primary focus of the company
is the development of genetically modified nematode resistant wheat and
sugarcane, although its technologies and developments are capable of being
applied across a wide range of crop species.
NemGenix is located at the WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre (SABC
), which is situated on the Murdoch University research campus, and
provides the company with full use of the SABCs state-of-the-art facilities
and equipment (www.SABC.murdoch.edu.au). The company also funds research at
the University of Sydney and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur,
NemGenix was founded by Dr Sean Hird and Professor Mike Jones in 2006 and
secured $500,000 of venture capital investment in January 2008. In July
2009 the company announced a major multi-year collaboration with Dow
AgroSciences (a division of Dow Chemical).
Dr Sean Hird has more than 15 years experience at Board level in the
biotechnology sector and has been involved in raising over $120million from
venture capital investors during that time. Dr Hird worked on the molecular
biology of wheat during his Ph.D at Cambridge University and subsequently
went on to train and qualify as a solicitor in the UK. He specialised in
intellectual property law before taking-up in-house management positions in
the biotechnology sector.
Professor Mike Jones is the Chief Scientific Officer of NemGenix and also
the Director of the SABC and Professor of Agricultural Biotechnology at
Murdoch University. He completed his undergraduate degree and postgraduate
training at Cambridge University in plant science. With over 30 years
research experience, he is one of Australias leading experts in
agricultural biotechnology and an internationally recognised expert in the
field of nematology.
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