International genomics firm to open in Sask.

NRGene, a leading genomics company based in Israel, is planning to open up a new office in Saskatoon, the company announced last week.

The office will support NRGene’s plans to expand operations in Canada, where the company has worked on a number of large genomics projects over the past few years and has developed working relationships with numerous organizations involved in agricultural research and plant breeding, including Agriculture Canada and the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre and Global Institute for Food.

“This announcement is good news for Saskatchewan and it is a positive sign that the province’s investment climate remains strong, despite the current challenges due to the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan’s trade and export development minister.

“NRGene will be a great fit for Saskatchewan’s agricultural sciences cluster, bringing good jobs and capacity that will enhance our innovative ag tech and increasing productivity in the agri-food sector.”

NRGene is a genomics artificial intelligence company that provides ready-to-use technologies that support agricultural research, plant breeding and animal husbandry.

The company uses a proprietary genomic database and AI-based technologies to provide some of the world’s largest agricultural research organizations with the computational tools they require to improve breeding techniques for agricultural crops and livestock.

Most recently, the company was involved in an ambitious international project that produced a high-quality genomic sequence for bread wheat.

That project, co-ordinated through the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), took more than 13 years to complete and involved more than 200 scientists from 73 research institutions located in 20 countries globally.

Curtis Pozniak, a researcher and durum breeder at the CDC, also played a key role in that project.

NRGene’s genomic and computational platforms have been used by leading seed, chemical and biotech companies around the world and by research teams in academia.

The Saskatchewan government has been working with NRGene since 2015, when Innovation Saskatchewan first met with NRGene researchers at a workshop and began working on a wheat genomics project aimed at improving the quality and yield of Canadian bread wheat.

Since then, NRGene has collaborated with a number of organizations in the province and has worked on projects involving a wide range of crops including wheat, durum, canola, legumes, mustard, flax and cannabis.

In January 2020, it was announced that an international consortium, including GIFS researchers at the U of S and NRGene, had successfully completed the assembly of multiple canola reference genomes.

NRGene’s permanent presence in Saskatchewan will provide new jobs for geneticists and data scientists.

“With the world class agricultural research cluster in Saskatoon, the burgeoning AgTech sector, and such a strong history of primary production, we see in Canada a natural location for NRGene to expand its operations,” said NRGene’s chief executive officer and co-founder Gil Ronen.

“We know this firsthand, having recently collaborated on the exciting genomics projects in wheat and canola, so we are pleased to make this important investment in Saskatchewan.”

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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