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PlantArcBio: Focus on the traits with drought tolerance & yield improvement, herbicide tolerance and insect resistanceqrcode

Apr. 16, 2019

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Apr. 16, 2019
AgroPages recently interviewed Dr. Dror Shalitin, Founder and CEO of PlantArcBio to seek his views on PlantArcBio’s business highlights, its target markets and target clients, the plans to extend new markets/regions, as well as current collaborations with other companies.

Q1. Could you share some advanced Agritech and applications in Israel and its core value to modern agriculture development?

Israel is a hub for modern agriculture and agritech. There is a huge knowledge arriving from Academic institutions directly to the farmers and to many companies, both more substantial ones and startups, that are involved in the field. Our farmers are very educated, always looking for more innovative ways to develop and improve their production and ready to try new technologies and solutions. So overall, Israel is a perfect place for research, development and exposure to the needs and solutions for agriculture.

Q2. Could you briefly introduce PlantArcBio and its team background?

I founded PlantArcBio in 2014. I’m in plant research since the early 90s. We are now a team of 9 people, 8 of them R&D, 4 PhDs and 4 Agronomists. We are located in a rural area and enjoying from growing different plants (such as papaya and hot peppers) just for fun, on top of our real lab and greenhouse work.

In our board we have Professor Oded Shoseyov, one of the most innovative scientists in Israel. Oded was the founder or co-founder of more than 10 companies and has over 160 scientific publications and 50 patents.

In the management team we have Roy Livneh, MBA, as CBO (Chief Business Officer), who in the licensing and technology transfer business since 2000. I used to work with Mr. Livneh for several years at Evogene, and we are very familiar with the seed industry and working with the big seed and ag-chem companies.

Q3. Could you describe how PlantArcBio’s products and solutions are innovative and the application value in terms of return on Investment?

In PlantArcBio we are involved in several segments of improving crops yield-enhancement and environmental tolerance to stresses, such as drought. First, we use our innovative and IP protected DIP® platform to discover genes that will be licensed to seed companies all over the world, to improve the genetics of their crops (improved seeds).  We are currently working on traits such as drought tolerance & yield improvement and herbicide tolerance. For the drought tolerance and yield improvement, we have a licensing agreement with a leading Asian seed company. The value of each of the traits, for the seed companies is several billion dollars a year, and the potential for PlantArcBio is big.

In the insect resistance segment, we found few compounds that showed excellent results for fighting the Red Palm Weevil, an insect that is devastating to palms (mainly dates and coconuts) all over the world. For that we joined a partner, a crop protection company, and we are working on the application development. In this case the end product will be an environmentally friendly bio-insecticide. The potential market for this specific solution is few tens of millions of Dollars a year. In addition, PlantArcBio is looking at opportunities for other harmful insects.

And last, we are developing Yield Enhancers with ICL-Innovation, to provide the crops with a complimentary boost to improve growth and yield.    

Q4. What are your target markets and target clients? What are the plans to extend new markets/regions?

Our main target markets are the big crops (e.g. corn, rice, wheat, soybean) all over the world. Some of our solutions are genetically modified solutions that are currently applicable for most of the world, but not for Europe and some of the African countries. Other solutions, such as the crop enhancers, will be probably relevant to most of the world.

Our target partners are seed and ag-chem companies.

In the long term, we would like to develop a niche crop, and use the knowledge and IP we will gain to become a leader in this niche crop. But… there are few years before we go into this route.

Q5. Could you talk about your company’s current collaborations with other companies?

We have 3 collaborations. The collaboration we announced now with ICL Innovation. A licensing agreement with a leading Asian seed company (we cannot disclose the name yet). A partnership with a leading plant protection company on the Red Palm Weevil solution.

Q6. What’s the development planning of your company over the next 5 years?

In the bio-pesticides and the yield enhancers we will have products in the market.

In the existing traits (drought tolerance & yield improvement, and herbicide tolerance) we will probably be in advanced development stage. We believe we will have several strategic partners for these traits activities.

I hope we will start our niche crop activity, as well as other activities we are considering now. We started generating revenues already in 2018.

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