Harmful viruses cause billions of dollars damage to our crops, threatening our future food supply. To address this global problem, Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd has closed a $2 million investment by Yuuwa Capital and Uniseed. Nexgen Plants is commercialising a cutting edge virus resistance technology, developed by Professor Peer Schenk’s group at The University of Queensland (UQ). The company was spun out by UniQuest, UQ’s main research commercialisation company.
The Nexgen Plants technology is based on the identification of a new class of small plant virus RNA molecules (miRNA) involved in modulating a plant’s defence response to virus attack. This discovery and its associated propagation methods allows selective breeding from germplasm collections, or the introduction of, virus resistance traits into key crops. 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 from viral infections are a multi-billion dollar global problem. This funding is essential for Nexgen Plants to further the development of a potentially disruptive technology focused on producing virus-resistant varieties of plants for different crop types,” said UniQuest’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Dean Moss.
“The Nexgen technology can confer virus resistance into existing commercial varieties of crops in less than 12 months. The resistance is expected to work for hybrid seed production linking in with current breeding programs and the plant viruses would have to develop an extremely unlikely mutation for the resistance to be broken,” Professor Schenk explained.
The research team has screened a range of high value crops such as sugarcane, soybean, maize, rice, potato, wheat and cotton for their potential to develop long-lasting resistance against Potyviruses, Tospoviruses, Cucumoviruses and Geminiviruses using the Nexgen technology.
“Yuuwa was attracted to the Nexgen opportunity due to the compelling commercially focused science, and convinced to invest as a result of the exceptional approach of Professor Schenk and his team, and the support provided by UniQuest,” said Dr James Williams, Investment Director at Yuuwa Capital.
About Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd
Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd has been assisted by a Commercialisation Australia Skills and Knowledge grant and the company was spun-out in 2013.
UniQuest Pty Limited
UniQuest is the main commercialisation company of The University of Queensland (UQ), specialising in the commercialisation of intellectual property, research outcomes and expertise. UniQuest delivers commercialisation outcomes which are valuable for UQ and profound for business, the environment, global communities and society as a whole. For more information about UniQuest, please visit www.uniquest.com.au
About The University of Queensland (UQ)
The University of Queensland, Australia, is one of the world’s premier teaching and research institutions. It is consistently ranked in the top 100 in the four leading independent global rankings. With more than 45,000 students and 7500 staff, UQ’s teaching is informed by research, and spans six faculties and eight research institutes.
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 who work with Candor Financial Management and also by the Australian Federal Government’s Innovation Investment Fund program. For more information, visit www.yuuwa.com.au
Uniseed is a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland and New South Wales, with investment capital provided by the three universities and AustralianSuper – a leading industry superannuation fund. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of university-generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies.
Ph. 0407 169 979
Dr James Williams
Yuuwa Capital LP
Ph. 0409 050 519
UniQuest Pty Ltd
Ph. +61 7 3365 4037
Nicole Cowan, UniQuest Pty Ltd
P: +61 7 3365 4037