SOURCE: Evogene

September 24, 2007 11:48 ET

Evogene and Ormat Industries Subsidiary Announce Biodiesel Collaboration

Target Is to Develop High Oil Yielding Non-Edible Crops Growable on Non-Arable Land

REHOVOT, ISRAEL and YAVNE, ISRAEL--(Marketwire - September 24, 2007) - Evogene Ltd. (TELAVIV: EVGN) and Orfuel Inc, a US subsidiary of Ormat Industries Ltd., today announced a collaboration in the field of alternative energy and biofuels, aimed at providing substantially improved feedstock sources for biodiesel production.

Biodiesel is an alternative to diesel fuel, based on oil derived from plants. Biodiesel use in the US and Europe has rapidly increased in the past few years, currently exceeding 4.5 billion liters annually. Since at present the main plant feedstocks for biodiesel production are soybean and canola, the increasing demand for biodiesel has resulted in rising prices for these important food crops and other commodities. The increasing demand for biodiesel has also resulted in substantial usage of arable farm land for non-food purposes. This situation has led to an increasing need to develop alternative feedstock to serve the rapidly expanding biodiesel industry.

Evogene and Orfuel will collaborate to develop non-edible plants displaying improved oil yield and capable of being grown in non-arable lands, thus addressing the key problems facing the industry. In addition to the other benefits, these plants are expected to significantly decrease feedstock costs for biodiesel production. Under the terms of the collaboration, Evogene will utilize its advanced biotechnological capabilities (such as gene and molecular marker discovery), in the development of the enhanced crops which will then be evaluated in field trials conducted by Orfuel in the expected target locations. In addition, Orfuel will evaluate suitability and methodologies for using such crops for biodiesel production. Upon project completion, Evogene and Orfuel intend to establish a joint venture aimed at commercialization of the developed plants.

The companies obtained approval in principle for a grant from the BIRD Foundation (Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation) for financial support of the project.

"For many reasons, there is an enormous and growing need for alternative feedstocks for the biodiesel industry, and we are convinced that with our advanced plant biotechnological capabilities we will be able to develop appropriate crops for this purpose," stated Mr. Martin Gerstel, Evogene's Chairman "With respect to the collaboration being announced today, Ormat has continuously demonstrated its capability to translate advanced technology into world-leading products in the field of alternative energy and therefore we are extremely pleased to have them as our partner," Mr. Gerstel concluded.

"Practically this is a return to Ormat's core: Utilizing the energy from the sun, however, this time for the production of fuels rather than electricity." Stated Mr. Lucien Y. Bronicki, Ormat's Chairman, "We are convinced that the synergy between Evogene and Ormat will produce the type of 'fruits' necessary to allow an environmentally friendly solution in the field of biofuels."

Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, Executive Director, BIRD Foundation, said: "The decision to substantially support this project is in line with BIRD's policy of promoting projects in the area of alternative, renewable and clean energy and with BIRD's high involvement in these fields (e.g. Biofuel and the Hydrogen Technology). BIRD Foundation has already invested in such projects and will encourage similar new initiatives."

About Evogene

Evogene's mission is to be a world leader in delivering improved plant traits to the agro-biotechnology and biofuel industries through the use of a continuously improving proprietary platform that combines state-of-the-art computational genomics, molecular biology and advanced breeding methods. Evogene's current product development portfolio includes such traits as: abiotic stress tolerance and yield, improving nitrogen use efficiency, enhancement of cotton fiber quality, increasing oil yield for the biodiesel industry and plant manufacturing of therapeutic proteins. Evogene was founded in 2002 as a spin-off of the agro-biotechnology division of Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN). Evogene's core in-silico technology, the ATHLETE, is based on Compugen's proprietary LEADS computational platform. Evogene completed an IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in June 2007.

For additional information, please visit Evogene's Website at www.evogene.com.

About Ormat Industries

For information on Ormat Industries see www.ormat.com

About the BIRD Foundation

The BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation works to encourage cooperation between Israeli and American companies in the various areas of technology, and provides free assistance in locating strategic partners from both countries for developing joint products. During its 30 years, the BIRD Foundation has invested in more than 740 projects that have yielded direct and indirect revenues of roughly $8 billion. The BIRD Foundation supports projects without receiving any rights in the participating companies or in the projects themselves. Any financial assistance is repaid as royalties from sales. The Foundation provides support of up to 50 percent of a project's budget, beginning with R&D and ending with the initial stages of sales and marketing. The Foundation shares the risk and does not demand that the investment be repaid if the project fails to reach the sales stage. The BIRD Foundation works in full cooperation with the Chief Scientist's Office at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment in Israel, and with the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

This press release contains "forward-looking statements." These statements include words like "may," "expects," "believes," "scheduled" and "intends," and they describe opinions about future events. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Evogene Ltd. to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.

Contact Information

  • Contact Information:

    Evogene
    Liat Cinamon
    PR & IR Executive
    Tel: +972-8-9311933
    E-mail: Email Contact

    Ormat Industries
    Dov Berger
    Orfuel
    CEO
    Tel: +972-8-9433777
    E-mail: Email Contact