DevGen

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Devgen NV
Acquired by Syngenta in 2013
Industry Agriculture and biotech
Founded Gent, Belgium (1997)
Key people
Thierry Bogaert, Founder, CEO
Remi Vermeiren, Chairman
Wim Goemaere, CFO
Products Pesticides, crop seeds, agricultural biotechnology
Website http://www.syngenta.com

Devgen is a Belgium-based multinational agricultural biotechnology company. It uses biotechnology and molecular breeding technologies to develop varieties of food crops. Its technology is marketed by outlicensing or selling seeds in India and South-East Asia. Devgen also develops nematicides.

History[edit]

RNA interference spin off[edit]

Devgen was founded as a spin-off of Ghent University and The Flemish Institute for Biotechnology in 1997 to commercialize intellectual property it licensed on the use of RNAi in nematodes and its use for screening for therapeutics and/or their targets. Its work focused on the nematode C. elegans as a model system, which functions as a model for human diseases, but also as a model for the kind of nematodes that are agricultural pests.[1][2]

The company raised 37 million Euro in its first three years, first from the GIMV and Abingworth investment companies at its launch, then from the IWT, then from another round of private investors including ING, KBC, Life Science Partners, Sofindex, Rendex and Mercator, then from Polytechnos and Capricorn.[2]:36-37 The received several subsequent grants from IWT.[3][4][5][6][7]

Devgen also struck R&D collaborations over its first six years, first with Janssen Pharmaceutica in 1998 in the field of target discovery for drugs and later with Merck and Genentech in the same field, and in 1998 it collaborated with FMC Corporation for the discovery of novel insecticides, and then with other ag companies like Sumitomo, Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred. Devgen brought in 23 million Euro in funding from these partnerships through 2003.[2]

In 2004 it opened a second office in Singapore and moved into a new research building on the Ardoyen Technology Campus.[8]

Seed company[edit]

In June 2005, employing close to 100 people, Devgen raised more than 33 million euro in a successful IPO on Euronext Brussels.[9] Also in 2005, it established rice breeding stations in Kenya; it completed its first field trials there in 2006.[10] In 2005 it also launched field trials of its nematicide in Europe.[11]

In early 2007, Devgen and Monsanto announced a five year collaboration in which the two companies would share technologies, with Devgen focusing the shared technology on the development of rice and other small cereal grains, and Monsanto using them to develop new traits for corn, cotton, and soybeans. [12] Later in 2007, Devgen acquired Monsanto's subsidiaries in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines that developed and sold hybrid seeds for 4 crops: rice, sunflower, sorghum and pearl millet, for about $26M.[13] Shortly thereafter, it announced its intention to spin off its pharma division.[14] In late 2008 it fired its 19 pharma employees, leaving about 200 remaining in its ag businesses.[14] In 2010, some former Devgen pharma employees started a pharmaceutical company, Amakem NV, to develop kinase inhibitors they had discovered at Devgen.[15][16]

In 2009, Devgen and Monsanto broadened their collaboration, with Monsanto paying Devgen €20 million cash for broader rights to use Devgen's technology.[17]

Devgen's nematicide Iprodione, was approved in the Turkish market under the brandname Devguard for use on tomatoes and cucumbers in 2009,[18] was approved in Europe in 2010,[19] and was approved in the US as Enclosure for use in commercial peanut production in May 2010.[20] Devgen has a method-of-use patents for the use of iprodine to kill nematodes.[21]

Takeover by Syngenta[edit]

In September 2012, Syngenta placed a bid of 403 million euros ($522 million) for the acquisition of Devgen as part of a wave of large ag companies buying biotech companies.[22][23] The offer came six months after the companies had signed an agreement under which Syngenta would have developed sprayable RNAi-based crop protection products based on Devgen's technology.[24] The rationale for Syngenta to acquire Devgen was stated by Syngenta spokeswoman Jennifer Gough as follows: "It's a very important expansion of our rice strategy, one of our eight key crops", she said. "We are also buying their competence in RNAi technology which will be relevant for us across a broad range of crops."[25] Devgen's shares were delisted from the NYSE in February 2013,[26] and the acquisition was completed in December 2013.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Devgen page at VIB
  2. ^ a b c Johan Albrecht, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Universiteit Gent Juni 2004 Biotech Cluster Project Biopharmaceutical Network Dynamics in Flanders and Sector Competitiveness
  3. ^ Devgen Press release, January 9, 2003. Press release: Devgen Receives Grant For Ion Channel Research
  4. ^ in-Pharma Technologist. 21 Nov, 2003 Grant helps Devgen explore drug mechanisms
  5. ^ Devgen Press Release. November 25, 2004 Press release: Devgen Receives IWT Grant to Develop Novel Nematicides
  6. ^ gate2biotech 7 Feb 2006 Devgen receives IWT grant to support crop protection R and D
  7. ^ Devgen Press release. 26 Feb 2007 Devgen NV Receives IWT Grant to Support its Obesity Drug Discovery Program
  8. ^ Cisco. Innovative biotechnology company opts for IP communications
  9. ^ Press release: Devgen Raises € 30 Million in Successful IPO
  10. ^ Devgen. February 7, 2007 Press release: Devgen moves ahead in its rice business plan, appoints management and senior advisor for its rice unit
  11. ^ Devgen Press Release. March 07, 2007 Positive outcome of 2006 season of nematicide field trials
  12. ^ Farm Futures. Feb 7, 2007 Devgen and Monsanto to Exchange Technology
  13. ^ Monsanto Press Release. September 14, 2007 Press release: Devgen to Acquire Rice, Sunflower, Sorghum and Pearl Millet Businesses in India and Other Asian Countries From Monsanto
  14. ^ a b First Word Pharma. November 5th, 2008 Devgen announces the intention to close its pharma division and to fully focus on the development of its agro business
  15. ^ Amakem Press Release. February 11, 2010 Amakem, a new Flemish drug discovery company starts operations for treatments of major chronic diseases
  16. ^ BioPharmaceutiques 2009 Successful start-up for Amakem
  17. ^ Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. Apr 24, 2009. Monsanto Buys Broader Rights to Devgen Technologies for $26.5M
  18. ^ AgroNews Nov. 2, 2009 Devgens nematicide Devguard receive regulatory approval in Turkey
  19. ^ AgroNews. Sep. 3, 2010 EU approved iprodione’s use extension
  20. ^ AgroNews. May. 24, 2010 Devgen launches Enclosure nematicide in U.S.
  21. ^ Reuters. May 8, 2009 2010 launch of Devgen's nematicide "Enclosure(R)" in the United States
  22. ^ Patrick Winters for Bloomberg News. Sep 21, 2012 Syngenta to Buy Biotech Seedmaker Devgen for $523 Million
  23. ^ Doug Macron for GenomeWeb. Sep 27, 2012 Syngenta Makes $518M Offer to Buy Devgen, Boost Access to RNAi Tech for Ag-Bio
  24. ^ Marie Daghlian for The Burrill Report. Sept 20, 2012. Syngenta Pushes into Biologic Pest Control
  25. ^ Reuters Sep 21, 2012 Syngenta pays hefty premium to snap up Devgen
  26. ^ Syngenta press release. February 27, 2013 Delisting of Devgen NV
  27. ^ The Hindu. December 15, 2013. Syngenta completes acquisition of Devgen