24 December 2009

University of Queensland (UQ) research into environmentally and economically sustainable production of sugars and ethanol biofuel has helped Australian-based company CSR Sugar Limited (CSR) sweeten a deal with agricultural research giant, Syngenta.

Working with UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest Pty Ltd, CSR and Syngenta have negotiated the transfer of exclusive licensing rights for the SugarBoosterTM technology developed by Professor Robert Birch and Dr Luguang Wu from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences and their research colleagues.

SugarBoosterTM has been shown to increase sugar production in sugarcane, leading to higher yields and a new raw material for the production of ethanol biofuel.

With assistance from the ARC Linkage Grants program and a A$5 million AusIndustry Renewable Energy Development grant, UQ and CSR collaborated on a significant, five-year research and development project, during which the company held the exclusive rights for use of SugarBooster™ in sugarcane, sorghum and sugar beet production for food, biofuel and other uses. The research also received funding from UQ, CSIRO, and the Australian government’s Sugar Research Development Corporation.

The Burrill & Company-brokered deal between CSR and Syngenta, and supported by UniQuest, includes CSR retaining the Australian rights to the SugarBoosterTM technology. UQ will retain ownership of the intellectual property.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said the interest from Syngenta was an encouraging sign of international recognition for Australia’s commitment to both agricultural and alternative energy research.

“This licensing deal is an excellent example of how university research can play a major role in helping Australian industries attract international partners and markets,” Mr Henderson said.

“The University of Queensland is developing some very exciting ag-biotech innovations to address the challenges of sustainable food and fuel production. With the SugarBoosterTM project UniQuest has been able to showcase the value of collaborating with university research teams on similar global issues.”

“While commercial release is not expected for at least several years, this agreement with Syngenta aims to accelerate the potential development of the new high-yielding varieties. This will assist CSR Sugar in improving Australian sugar industry sustainability through new products and increased efficiency in the production of sugar and biofuels,” said CSR Sugar CEO, Ian Glasson.

"The SugarBooster™ technology from The University of Queensland is an important component of CSR’s ongoing commitment to supporting innovation within the Australian sugar industry and we’re pleased to be also partnering with Syngenta to make that happen,” Mr Glasson said.

The deal with Syngenta was announced on 16 December 2009. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Media enquiries: UniQuest Leanne Wyvill +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au

About UniQuest
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. It has created more than 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised a quarter of a billion dollars to take UQ technologies to market. Sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are now running at $5.2 billion per year. UniQuest also commercialises innovations developed at the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, the Mater Medical Research Institute and two ARC Centres of Excellence. As well, UniQuest can access thousands of researchers and experts and tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the needs of industry and government. UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance projects. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented projects in 45 countries throughout Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa. For more information about UniQuest, please visit www.uniquest.com.au.

About CSR
CSR Sugar Limited is a Sugar and Renewable Energy business which is the market leader in raw sugar milling and refining in Australia and has market-leading positions in ethanol production and cogeneration of renewable energy. CSR has been directly involved in research, development and breeding of new sugarcane varieties in Australia for over 100 years.