Agribusiness firm seals global tie-up

AbacusBio has done it again.

The Dunedin-based agribusiness company has landed another partnership with a big global company, this time Illumina, a Nasdaq-listed biotechnology company.

The partnership was cited as being expected to deliver significant real-world value to agriculture around the world by driving up the rate of genetic improvement in the livestock, cropping, aquaculture, horticulture and forestry sectors.

Illumina was described as a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical and applied markets. Its products were used for applications in life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture and other emerging segments.

AbacusBio managing director Dr Peter Amer said the company was proud to partner with a globally recognised brand to deliver impact, particularly with an emphasis on new genetic improvement opportunities in countries with rapidly developing agriculture sectors.

Illumina was focused on making tangible contributions to the agricultural community with the goal of reducing hunger, malnutrition and poverty through the development of affordable and accessible sequencing technology.

The global company’s genetic technologies were used by plant and animal breeding programmes and research programmes predominantly in countries with more advanced agriculture support systems, Dr Amer said.

It considered there were many opportunities for those technologies to be used in markets it did not currently have captured and that was where the partnership with AbacusBio came in.

AbacusBio had a track record in working in developed and developing countries to bring about impact through plant and animal breeding and Illumina wanted to leverage off AbacusBio’s experience, reputation and skill to promote the joint use of Illumina’s technologies and AbacusBio’s skills and expertise, he said.

The partnership had its roots at a plant breeding conference in Australia when AbacusBio consultant Madeleine Post got talking to Illumina representatives and was discussing what AbacusBio did.

The timing was right for Illumina and, for AbacusBio being a small company, and Illumina being big — "we want to hitch on to anything we can get," Dr Amer said.

In terms of opportunities, Dr Amer said they were "huge".

"These are tough markets. Having an impact in these parts of the world is very, very difficult. We’ll expect some good opportunities and some tough opportunities to come out of this."

That regional impact aligned with the values of AbacusBio as a business and what it wanted to achieve through global impact — "helping those that are most needy in the world".

Agricultural food production was critically important; huge numbers of people relied on relatively primitive agricultural systems for their survival.

The partnership was also recognition of AbacusBio’s brand and track record and it was proud to attract the attention of such a large company.

As part of its business model, AbacusBio was actively targeting partnerships, he said.