Novel technology licensed from the Weizmann Institute of Science for biological solutions to treat bacterial diseases in crops
Monheim, Germany / Misgav, Israel, July 10, 2019 – The Bayer Trendlines Ag Innovation Fund, set up by Bayer CropScience LLC (“Bayer”) and The Trendlines Group Ltd. (“Trendlines”), announced that it established EcoPhage Ltd. (“EcoPhage”), a new company focused on discovering and developing environmentally friendly products for disease control in agriculture.
The Company will leverage a disruptive technology for using bacteriophages, viruses that attack bacteria, for crop protection. The technology was developed by Professor Rotem Sorek of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science (“Weizmann”). Professor Sorek is a recognized world leader known for his groundbreaking research on the interactions between bacteria and bacteriophages. Several companies have been founded to commercialize Professor Sorek's technologies, provided under license from Yeda Research and Development Company Ltd. (“Yeda”), Weizmann's technology transfer company.
Farmers' need for effective, environmentally friendly solutions to combat bacterial diseases in crops prompted the effort to seek additional approaches. Bacteriophages have been recognized as natural enemies of bacteria for decades; yet, there has been a lack of technology for pinpointing the “right” phage combination to effectively fight disease, which inhibited acceptance for applications in agriculture.
Based on the discoveries made by Professor Sorek, and now held by EcoPhage for crop protection under exclusive license from Yeda, the Company is poised to develop effective, eco-friendly treatments against crop diseases.
“Farmers tell us they need new tools to combat the diseases that can ravage their crops,” said Dr. Robert (Bob) Reiter, Head of Research and Development for the Crop Science division of Bayer. “We're finding innovative ways to pursue new leads in crop protection, and EcoPhage's focus on bacteriophages exemplifies that approach.”
Professor Sorek notes: “Bacteriophages can efficiently eradicate the target pathogenic bacteria, while leaving the 'good' bacteria unharmed. As they do not interact with the plant itself, they can become a very powerful solution for usage in agricultural settings.”
“The environmental impact of modern farming technologies makes it critical to find even more effective, friendlier technologies that will protect crops. EcoPhage will be harvesting the natural power of bacteriophages to fight crop diseases. The company came together as the result of a year-long, intensive collaborative effort between Yeda, Bayer, and Trendlines,” says Steve Rhodes, Chairman and CEO of Trendlines. “We are excited by the tremendous potential of this new company and look forward to it growing into a major contributor to the world of crop protection.”
EcoPhage is the second company established by the Bayer Trendlines Ag Innovation Fund. The first company was IBI Ag Ltd., which is developing eco-friendly, highly targeted solutions for pest control.
The Bayer Trendlines Ag Innovation Fund was established in April 2016 as a collaborative partnership between The Trendlines Group and Bayer to invest in agricultural technologies. The partnership agreement includes a USD 10 million investment from Bayer. Bayer's decades of experience in agricultural science, innovation and regulatory affairs, alongside Trendlines' specialization in investing in innovative, early-stage medical and agricultural technologies, form the base of this strong alliance.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2018, the Group employed around 117,000 people and had sales of 39.6 billion euros. Capital expenditures amounted to 2.6 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.2 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
About The Trendlines Group
Trendlines is an innovation commercialization company that invents, discovers, invests in, and incubates innovation-based medical and agricultural technologies to fulfill its mission to improve the human condition. As intensely hands-on investors, Trendlines is involved in all aspects of its portfolio companies from technology development to business building. Trendlines' shares are traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX: 42T) and in the United States as an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) on the OTCQX (OTCQX: TRNLY).
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.