World Rice Lider Hisparroz and Oryzon Genomics Announce a Strategic Alliance for the Development of new Rice Varieties

Hisparroz, major shareholder in the Spanish multinational Ebro-Puleva, and the Catalonian Biotechnology company Oryzon Genomics Sa have announced today the signing of a three years technical collaboration agreement which allows Hisparroz access to Oryzon´s Orysamf technology platform for the production of new rice varieties adapted to the Guadalquivir ecosystem. The project will include the evaluation and commercialization of the new varieties and the granting of royalties to Oryzon; at a level not disclosed.

Barcelona (PRWEB) May 27, 2005 -- The Seville-based company Hisparroz, major shareholder in the Spanish multinational Ebro-Puleva, and world market leader in packeted rice, and the Catalonian Biotechnology company Oryzon Genomics SA have announced today the signing of a technical collaboration agreement which allows Hisparroz access to Oryzon´s Orysamf technology platform for the production of new rice varieties adapted to the Guadalquivir ecosystem.

The agreement, whose financial terms have not been revealed, covers a project of three years duration in which researchers from both companies will participate and which will use rice varieties currently in cultivation in the Guadalquivir region as the basis for the development of improved lines. The project will include the evaluation and commercialization of the new varieties and the granting of royalties to Oryzon; at a level not disclosed.

The Orysamf technology developed by Oryzon is covered by an international patent application and is an approach of great potential which exploits the knowledge of rice gene function gained by Oryzon´s geneticists and bioinformatics scientists to produce normal rice plants changed only in specifically-targeted characteristics

Antonio Hernandez Calleja, Managing Director of Hisparroz and President of the group Ebro Puleva commented: “Our business vision for the rice market is to continue to be leaders in innovation, supporting and optimizing agricultural production and to play a role in improving quality factors in a sector which is every day more competitive and demanding. Our agreement with Oryzon genomics is a clear indication of our aim to lead in innovation”.

Carlos Buesa, director of Oryzon, stated: “In the past five years, our company has developed technology at the leading–edge internationally, which permits a targeted approach to solve problems in Agriculture and Health, applying the latest advances in genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics. Our agreement with Hisparroz fits perfectly with the business model adopted by Oryzon of collaboration with the major companies in the Pharmaceutical, Agriculture and Food sectors. Oryzon is becoming recognised as a primary collaboration partner in the Spanish biotechnology sector, and only in the last six months has signed agreements with BASF, Laboratories Ferrer and Laboratories Esteve. The rice varieties which we will co-develop and co-commercilize with Hisparroz will be targeted at clear needs in the rice production sector which Oryzon can approach using our innovative technology. Our partnership with Hisparroz is of special importance for us as it represents our first agreement with a major multinational in the rice sector and it gives us international visibility.

Hisparroz, the leading Spanish company in rice seed production, is owned by the family Hernandez Calleja, whose industrial and commercial strategy is integrated within the group Herba Ebro Puleva.

Spain is a major world force in the production and export of rice, with Herba being the major European rice company, commercializing approximately a third of the rice consumed in the EU. Rice production per hectare in Spain is at one of the highest levels in the world, thanks to the application of advanced cultivars and constant research and improvement in production processes, in which the innovative approach of Herba has played a major role. Herba applies some of the worlds most advanced technology, from the processes of production to the optical selection of grain colour using photoelectric cells, the use of scanning systems to detect contaminating materials, vacuum sterilization and automated packaging lines. In the EU context, Spain is the second largest rice producer with 0.8 million tonnes produced annually. Since March 2004, when Antonio Hernandez Callejas was named President Executive of the Ebro Puleva group, the company has shown very strong growth in the sector as the result of an ambitious policy of acquisitions. In 2004, the English company Vogan & Company, which commercializes legumes and rice, was acquired, followed in September by the North American company Riviana Foods, the number one rice company in the USA, converting the group Herba into the world’s largest rice company. In 2005, the naming of Antonio Hernandez Callejas as president of the group coincided with the acquisition of the French company Panzani, confirming the group’s leadership position in the European food sector.

Oryzon Genomics, SA (www.oryzon.com) is a Functional Genomics company whose business model is based on “gene discovery “ which involves the application of large-scale, high-throughput research tools to determine the function of genes in chosen organisms, with the objective of subsequent patenting of the genetic applications developed. Oryzon made three new patent applications in this area in 2004. The companies division of New Developments in Molecular Diagnostics uses the most advanced techniques in Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics, which have allowed the company to establish competitive research programmes in oncology in the areas of colon cancer and lung cancer and in neurodegenerative diseases in the areas of Alzheimer’s disease and Lewry Bodies Dementia. The company has a strong record of alliances with the Spanish pharmaceutical industry and with research groups in leading Spanish hospitals. In addition, the companies new technologies for gene discovery are applicable in the formation of non-transgenic plant varieties, in this area Oryzon is building a significant network of strategic alliances with leading companies in the agbiotech and food sectors,. Recently Oryzon signed an important agreement with the multinational BASF and is involved in important projects in the area of functional foods, a field of activity targeted as a strategic growth area for the company in the coming years.

Oryzon was created in the year 2000 as a spin-off of the University of Barcelona and of the CSIC IBMB and is located in the Parc Cientific in Barcelona. With a current headcount of 34 scientists, the company has grown rapidly, financed by the venture capital investor Najeti Capital, SCR, SA, after having received initial financial support from Enisa and CDTI, which allowed the company to establish its position internationally in the area of biomedicine. With a turnover of more than two million euros the company first recorded benefits in 2004 and has remained in benefit in the first two quarters of 2005.

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/5/prweb244808.htm