A key activity of AVS for achieving its purpose and objectives is investing AVS funds in high-potential technology inventions of the Agriculture Victoria Research branch (AVR) of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DPJR).
AVS invests funds in technologies that are technically feasible, commercially attractive and that can lead to high levels of industry uptake and positive impacts for Australian farmers.
Through the investment of Company funds, AVS seeks to enhance and accelerate the commercial appeal and adoption of AVR technologies and related innovations.
The investment of AVS funds to advance and commercialise AVR-created technologies has been a central element of the Company’s business since its formation in 1986.
The AVS investment portfolio is managed by the AVS Investment Committee, which considers new investment opportunities; reviews and monitors the performance of existing investment projects; and plans for the funding of future investment opportunities.
As at 30 June 2019, AVS had 12 active investment projects under management and had invested in 22 technology enhancement projects during the past 16 years.
The following table provides an overview of the current AVS investment fund projects.
Summary of active AVS investment fund projects and objectives:
Investment fund projects
Key objective of investment project
Phytogene Pty Ltd
Phytogene is a wholly owned subsidiary company of AVS established to commercialise a proprietary and patented delayed plant leaf senescence technology, with the trademark LXR®. The technology has a wide range of potential applications for major plant crops by increasing dry matter production, seed yield and drought tolerance. Phytogene also holds the exclusive commercialisation rights to another, complementary yield-enhancing trait – biomass enhancement technology (BET) – which was developed by AVR and the former Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). AVS’ share capital investment and early stage licence revenues fund Phytogene’s ongoing operations.
This project has delivered AVR-developed canola germplasm and elite new canola varieties in Australia through three genetic trait pipelines: conventional (non-herbicide-tolerant) canola varieties; triazine-tolerant canola varieties; and imidazolinone-tolerant canola varieties.
AVS High Oleic, Low Linolenic (HOLL) Canola
This project has delivered commercial HOLL canola hybrids with tolerance to key herbicides. Oil produced from HOLL canola offers improved shelf-life and stability at high temperatures due to its oxidative stability, as well as lower saturated ‘trans’ fats.
Herbicide-Tolerant (HT) Barley
This project has established and delivered the world’s first HT barley varieties to enable Australian barley growers to better manage weeds and has provided the local grain industry with a new crop rotation option.
Herbicide-Tolerant (HT) Lentils
This project has developed and commercially released elite, new lentil varieties with tolerance to a class of important herbicides for Australian lentil growers.
Blackleg Tolerant Canola
This project aims to validate, de-risk and demonstrate the value of Blackleg Tolerant Canola Optimum Haploid Value (OHV) technology for use in canola pre-breeding applications by commercial breeding companies in Australia.
Genome Edited Wheat and Forages
This project aims to develop new ExZact™ genome-edited forage product innovations for the Australian dairy industry. It also aims to develop and validate platform technology in wheat to enable precision genome editing technology to be directly deployed in elite wheat germplasm.
Russian Wheat Aphid Tolerant Wheat
This project aims to develop, implement and demonstrate the efficacy of selection methods based on the OHV technology in wheat pre-breeding. This will help accelerate development of new wheat varieties with resistance to Russian wheat aphid (while increasing genetic gain for yield, rust disease resistance and other breeding traits).
Novel Safflower Platform(SaffBio™)
This project aims to establish a novel precision genome design system for safflower that will enable the generation of new safflower events producing biomolecules with industrial and agricultural applications. This investment also seeks to advance AVS’ RNAse5 technology for animal health and animal feed applications.
Novel Medicinal Cannabis (CannBio®)
This project aims to develop and commercialise medicinal cannabis genetics that will provide novel chemical profiles of cannabinoids and aromatic terpenes, including designer medicinal cannabis strains. This project also enables targeted accelerated precision breeding to create novel, commercial medicinal cannabis products.
Medicinal Cannabis Microbials
This project aims to discover, characterise and assess novel microbes for providing resistance against fungal and bacterial diseases and increasing yields of medicinal cannabis plants.
Endophyte Microbiome Library
This project aims to establish a collection of endophytic microbes isolated from a range of plants with bioprotection, biofertiliser and biostimulant activities for deployment in several crops to improve plant performance.