The Role of Biotechnology in Europe's Responsible Innovation - Keygene


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KeyGene is a molecular genetics R&D company with a primary focus on 6F crop improvement (Food, Feed, Fiber, Fuel, Flowers and Fun crops).

When? KeyGene was founded in 1989 and has its headquarters in Food Valley, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

With the growing and aging world population there is an urgent need in Europe to produce substantially more crops for Food, Feed, Fiber and Fuel. This increased production needs to be accomplished with a lower footprint on the environment and with less water, nutrients and land available. One of several options available to help meet these goals and tackle the challenges we face is through genetic improvement of our crops in particular via the improvement of traits like yield, quality & resistances. This can directly result in more, better and healthier food and to a lower level of use of plant protection products.

KeyGene assists breeding companies by providing cutting edge proprietary molecular breeding technology and trait improvement platforms for their own crop development. It has developed more than 150 so-called biomarkers that are actively used in commercial breeding programs. By using these biomarkers, breeders are able to select plants with the traits of interest at an early stage. This saves not only time in the breeding process for the variety of interest, but also saves greenhouse space, energy and water to the benefit of the European environment.

Comment from the EuropaBio judging panel for the Most Innovative European SME on why KeyGene has been shortlisted for the Award:

“More efficient food production is one of the pillars of biotechnology and KeyGene is at the forefront of applying the latest tools of science to achieve this objective. KeyGene has successfully applied many of the developments better known in pharmaceutical industry such as bioinformatics, gene-sequencing, and modulation of gene transcription to identify and introduce improved genetic characteristics of benefit to crop production.  Integration of these cutting edge technologies has not only allowed KeyGene to offer improved yields and production economics but to reduce the use of plant protection products for the benefit of the environment in general.  Notably, KeyGene has not only progressed the application of biotechnology in food production but has also built a sustainable business in an area in which SME's have difficulty to succeed  due to the high costs of development and limited profit margins compared to other sectors.”