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Evogene Participates In Israeli Agbio Consortium


Rehovot, Israel – November 28th, 2006 – Evogene Ltd. announced today its participation in the BIOTOV MAGNET Israeli research consortium. The Israeli MAGNET program (Generic Pre-Competitive Technologies and Research and Development) finances research consortia to develop enabling technologies in targeted high potential industries. The BIOTOV consortium is focused on enabling the expression of secondary metabolites in plants that can improve or restore taste or flavor in fruits and vegetables, as well as the enrichment of such fruits and vegetables for producing nutraceuticals.

The consortium consists of a group of Israeli companies and academic institutes active in the field of agro-biotechnology, seed and flavors, including, in addition to Evogene, the two leading Israeli seed companies Hazera Genetics (TASE: HQS) and Zeraim Gedera, Rahan Meristem Ltd. a leading producer of banana plantlets and Frutarom Industries (TASE: FRUT; LSE:FRUT) a leading producer of flavors and fragrances. The academic institutes participating include the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Vulcani Institute (Agricultural Research Organization) and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

A budget of approximately US$1.9 million has been approved for the first year of activity, of which the Israeli government will provide 66%. The consortium members estimate that a total budget of about US$9 million will be required over a three year period.

Dr Eli Opper, Israeli Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor stated: “The target of the MAGNET consortium program is to support industry focused companies and academic institutions in the development of broadly applicable technologies to increase the competitiveness of targeted industry sectors. In this case, we are pleased to provide R&D support in the expanding area of agro-biotechnology for the development of healthier and tastier foods and food ingredients. The agro-biotechnology industry in Israel is relatively small, but the companies involved have proven to be both competitive on a world-wide basis and innovative. We have found that one of the most effective mechanisms we can use to support activities in highly competitive and rapidly growing international markets such as agbio is through the co-operative efforts fostered by Magnet consortia.”

Evogene’s role in the consortium will be to design, create and integrate the genomic and metabolomics databases from public sources and the proprietary data generated by the consortium participants and to further develop computational biology tools to provide lead gene candidates for validation by the consortium participants.

Dr Hagai Karchi, Evogene’s CTO stated: “We are pleased to participate in this consortium of leading Israeli participants in the agbio field. Our participation in the BIOTOV consortium provides Evogene with the ability to develop additional state-of-the art database integration tools as well as access to significant proprietary data sources and relationship building. In addition, Evogene’s role of database design, integration and the development of additional computational biology tools allows us to further develop our capabilities in systems biology”.