Ofer Haviv, President & CEO of Evogene, shares his insights on using computational technologies to address key challenges in agricultural markets and creating sustainable products.
There have been two major revolutions in the world of informatics, the big data revolution and the computational capabilities revolution. In your view, how did these two revolutions impact the agriculture world?
The computational revolution had a major effect on the way we create new products at Evogene. We believe harnessing the tools that these revolutions have provided us, together with deep scientific knowledge in biology, can bring breakthroughs that the world has yet to witness. We can now produce more data in a cost-effective manner.
Together with the rise of the computational processing power, including new ways of processing information such as machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, there are new and exciting ways to tackle biological problems that in the past were unsolved. In Evogene, for instance, we have created a unique state-of-the-art platform, the CPB (Computational Predictive Biology) platform to do exactly that.
On the one hand, we gather a huge amount of tailored data, sometimes derived from field trials we conduct purely for the generation of relevant, high quality data. And on the other hand, we use the most advanced computational algorithms to analyze this data and create product recommendations.
We believe these two revolutions are the key to creating the next generation of ag products. While these revolutions have provided the necessary basis for breakthrough product development, without deep scientific understanding, we would still be at a standstill. Our scientific team includes more than 60 PhD multidisciplinary researchers from the world’s top research institutions. Without them, none of our cutting-edge product development could have happened. They play a pivotal role in our unique product development approach and are involved in creating the important criteria for a successful product from initiation, helping determine what data we need to get or create.
Where do you implement this approach today?
Today we have five Ag activities:
- Ag-Seeds: we develop seed traits using GMO and non-GMO approaches for the development of improved yield and response to abiotic stress seed traits, disease resistance seed traits and insect control seed traits.
- Ag-Chemicals (AgPlenus): we develop herbicides and insecticides
- Ag-Biologicals: we create bio stimulants and bio pesticides.
- Evofuel: we develop castor seeds for industrial applications.
- We have joined a precision ag consortium in Israel, Phenomics, to develop advanced precision ag tools.
Can you tell us how a relatively small company can commercialize its products?
Basically, there are two ways to get to the market, the first one is through collaborations and the second one is going to the end market by yourself. The approach you take is mostly determined by what crop you are aiming at and whether the market is dominated by a number of companies or fragmented. In Evogene, we have a hybrid approach. In large scale crops we collaborate with the largest companies in the world, such as Corteva, BASF, Monsanto etc, understanding that a small company does not have the sale force for broad marketing. On diversified markets, such as wheat our approach to get to the market in those diversified crops is based on the idea that we can capture more value.
Finally, what’s next for Evogene?
Evogene has announced it will reorganize its activity into market-oriented business units. This structure is based on a technological core that can provide predictions and outputs in various fields of life science while the units focus on product development and commercialization.
Each business unit has three main targets:
- Advance the product pipeline
- Establish go-to-market approach and create new collaborations
- Secure its financial resources.
We expect 2019 to be a pivotal year for our company and believe we are on the right track to success.
What are your plans for Evogene over the next 12 months and why is the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit important to this strategy?
Evogene has announced it will reorganize its activity into market-oriented business units. This structure is based on a technological core that can provide predictions and outputs in various fields of life science while the units focus on product development and commercialization. Each business unit has three main targets: (i) to advance the product pipeline (ii) establish go-to-market approach and create new collaborations and (iii) secure its financial resources. We expect 2019 to be a pivotal year for our company in these aspects, and we believe we are on the right track to success. The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit is a place for our subsidiaries to meet with potential new partners and investors.
Join Ofer’s colleague, Ido Dor, Executive Vice President and General Manager Ag-Biologicals at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit speaking on the Day 2 panel: Next Generation Crop Protection at 2.30pm on Wednesday March 20.
Evogene is a leading biotechnology company developing novel products for major life science markets through the use of a unique computational predictive biology (CPB) platform incorporating deep scientific understandings and cutting-edge computational technologies. Today, this platform is utilized by the company and its subsidiaries discover and develop innovative products in the following areas: ag-chemicals, ag-biologicals, seed traits, integrated castor oil ag-solutions and human microbiome-based therapeutics. Each subsidiary or division establishes its product pipeline and go-to-market, as demonstrated in its collaborations with world leading companies. Visit www.evogene.com or follow them on LinkedIn and Facebook.