Evogene: How This Company Is Transforming Life Science Product Development

By Amit Chowdhry • Jun 13, 2024

Evogene is a leading computational biology company focused on revolutionizing life-science product development. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Evogene’s Executive Vice President of Business Development Eyal Ronen.

Eyal Ronen’s Background

What is Ronen’s background? Ronen said:

“My name is Eyal Ronen, and I am the executive vice president of business development at Evogene. My educational background begins at the Hebrew University, where I did my BSc in agriculture and crop protection, as well as my master’s in plant nutrition. In 2012 I completed an MBA in executive business and marketing at the University of Haifa.”

“I have worked for a range of companies in the agriculture and agronomy sectors for more than 20 years and have always enjoyed being a part of growing a company’s international reach and presence. Professionally, I am very passionate about business development, business strategy, biotechnology, and agtech. My job at Evogene has allowed me to marry these passions and facilitate joint ventures and collaborations around the world. The diversity of products and technology that I get to work with is very exciting and rewarding.”

“My main focus is analyzing and executing business development by exploring new fields of activity that can utilize Evogene’s technology. I also work to establish collaborations and new divisions of activity that will enhance the company’s value and image in capital markets, create new revenue streams, and reduce risk by utilizing Evogene’s technology engines (MicroBoost AI, ChemPass AI, and GeneRator AI) to the fullest extent possible.”

Favorite Memory

What has been Ronen’s favorite memory working for the company so far? Ronen reflected:

“The diversity of working in multiple fields with different elements and at different stages of development is something that thrills and excites me.”

Core Products

Evogene from ATTRACTIVE GRAPHICS LTD. on Vimeo.

What are the company’s core products and features? Ronen explained:

“Evogene has developed a computational predictive biology platform that combines AI and big data to study biological compounds like microbes, chemicals, and genes. The platform has three tech engines:

— MicroBoost AI: Used for the discovery and development of products for human health and agriculture

— ChemPass AI: Used for designing novel small molecule-based products. It comes with a database of more than 35 billion chemical compounds

— GeneRator AI: Used to identify specific genetic elements for the purpose of genetic design”

Challenges Faced

What challenges has Ronen and the team face in building the company? Ronen acknowledged:

“The business development side is always challenging, especially when our kind of product is technical and requires deep explanation; nevertheless, this is what sets the job apart and makes it more interesting. I try to use this complexity to my advantage as a technological edge. I believe, and have proven, that this edge attracts companies to explore business collaborations with us, which may pave the way towards bigger and more profound collaborations at a later stage.”

Evolution Of Evogene’s Technology

How has Evogene’s technology evolved since launching? Ronen noted: 

“The technology started as a mixture of bioinformatic applications under the umbrella name of ‘CPB’ (Computational Predictive Biology), mostly focusing on plant genomics. Since then, the technology has significantly evolved into new fields with advanced developments in the User Interface (UI). Now our technology is able to combine several applications and features into one technological platform.”

“Today, Evogene has three engines dedicated to different life science factors: microbiome, small molecule chemistry, and genomics. These established pieces of software are designed to assist researchers in product discovery and facilitate the development of new products in a streamlined fashion.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Ronen cited:

— Recently, our subsidiary Biomica, announced positive Phase 1 trial results for its AI-designed, microbiome-based drug – BMC128. The findings proved to be meaningful beyond safety testing in this phase of the trial, demonstrating encouraging evidence of the effect of the drug’s cocktail of live gut microbiota on the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI).

— Last year, our subsidiary, Casterra, signed a framework agreement with a world-leading oil and gas company to sell its castor seeds for biofuel production. There was also an initial purchase order of $9.1 million.

— In 2022, we raised more than $20 million in a financing round to advance our pipeline of microbiome-based therapeutics.

— In 2021, our subsidiary Canonic launched its first medical cannabis product in Israel.

— Our subsidiary, Lavie Bio, commercially launched its first microbiome-based product for agriculture yield improvement – Yalos.

— In 2018, we signed a multi-year collaboration for the development of novel insecticides with chemical giant BASF

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is the company pursuing? Ronen assessed:

“In general, most of the life sciences sectors can be addressed by Evogene’s technology, offering solutions that are driven from the microbiome space, small molecules space, or the genomic layer of information. Sectors may vary from Agtech to human pharma, animal feed, human food, veterinary, aquaculture, and more.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Ronen affirmed:

“There are many companies that are in the field of computational biology, but through our three tech engines, the possibilities of what our technology is capable of doing for research and development are practically unlimited. In addition in Evogene, to some extent, there is a possibility for wet validations of some of the solutions resulting from the computational process. By licensing and collaborating with other companies using our proprietary tech engines, we are able to reach a diverse clientele.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of the company’s future company goals? Ronen pointed out:

“Extending its fields of activity and exploiting furthermore its tech engines, doing so through collaborations that may lead to the establishment of new subsidiaries with industry investment in these new ventures.”

Additional Thoughts

Any other topics you would like to discuss? Ronen concluded: 

“Evogene is on the pathway of further development and expansion of its existing solutions to new fields that can raise the company’s value and, on the other hand, will influence the further development of its technology and the evolution of the tech engines.”