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Syngenta starts research partnership in Australia for sugarcane biomass conversion to biofuels


Syngenta announced today that it has agreed a research partnership in Australia that focuses on the development of cost effective conversion of sugarcane bagasse to biofuels, including the delivery of plant-expressed enzymes. The research partners are the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), its technology transfer and commercialization company qutbluebox and the Australian agbiotech company Farmacule BioIndustries. A new Syngenta Centre for Sugarcane Biofuel Development will be established at QUT’s campus in Brisbane, Australia.

“We are very pleased to team up with such renowned experts on sugarcane as Queensland University of Technology and Farmacule”, said Robert Berendes, Head of Business Development at Syngenta. “This broadens Syngenta’s biofuels strategy into new crops and speeds up our development of biomass conversion technologies to make cellulosic ethanol economically viable.”

“This collaboration brings together dynamic new technologies as well as the expertise and infrastructure to tackle the challenge of producing cellulosic ethanol from cane. It has the potential to substantially decrease the cost of bioethanol production and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, said Professor James Dale, Director at the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at Queensland University of Technology.

Under the collaboration agreement Syngenta will have exclusive global marketing rights for the products, excluding for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific islands, where rights are held by the other project partners. Syngenta can also use the developed technologies in other crops. The Syngenta Centre for Sugarcane Biofuel Development will commence operations immediately.

The Queensland Government strongly supports this partnership and will invest a total of
AUD 5.1 million (approx. USD 4.6 million) for the establishment of the new Syngenta centre and for the development of a related biocommodities pilot plant. Other financial details have not been disclosed.

QUT is a leading Australian university and is widely acknowledged for its research excellence in plant biotechnology. qutbluebox is the technology transfer and commercialization company for QUT. Farmacule BioIndustries is developing molecular farming technology to cost effectively mass produce high-value proteins, biofuels and bioplastics in plants for various industrial, therapeutic and diagnostic applications. All three partners are based in Brisbane.


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