Bayer acquires German Biotech start-up Targenomix

Monnheim-based Bayer announced last week the acquisition of German biotech start-up Targenomix. The spin-off of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI MPP) uses novel systems biology and computational life science tools to identify new modes of action for crop protection compounds.

The Targenomix expertise, personnel, and platforms will be an important part of delivering on Bayer’s commitment to the design of safe and effective molecules, and will accelerate the discovery and development of molecules with the potential to make agricultural production more sustainable despite dynamic challenges like climate change, and increasing weed, disease and insect resistance.

Targenomix is a foundational element of Bayer’s new crop protection systems biology platform. Targenomix will operate at arms-length and maintain a flexibility-focused business model, through which the company will continue to conduct crop protection research with a start-up mindset and agile culture.

“Targenomix’ approach has proven to be very successful,” said Dr. Robert Reiter, Head of R&D at Bayer’s Crop Science Division. “By using a unique and holistic systems biology approach and leveraging leading expertise building on a strong scientific foundation stemming from the MPI MPP, Targenomix has delivered numerous novel targets and modes of action for small molecules in weed control. Their innovative tools to identify and select safe and sustainable compounds complement our design-based strategy in crop protection discovery and will accelerate the development of new products that farmers need to meet future challenges of agriculture.”

By further integrating Targenomix’ systems biology approach into Bayer’s established R&D pipeline, Bayer is driving the development of innovative new technologies towards safe and effective products that farmers need.

“Combining Bayer’s leading capabilities and proven crop protection pipeline with Targenomix’ flexible start-up mindset, deep multi-omics technology, and systems biology expertise will allow us jointly to continue to deliver novel modes of action,” said Dr. Sebastian Klie, CEO of Targenomix. “This new phase of our complementary relationship will accelerate the discovery of the next generation of sustainable and safe molecules.”

Bayer and Targenomix have been working together successfully since 2014, with the discovery and development of the industry’s first new post-emergence herbicide mode of action (MOA) for broadacre weed control in 30 years supported by the collaboration. This molecule has demonstrated effective control of key resistant grasses in research and is expected to be commercialized towards the end of this decade.

“I am very happy about the integration of Targenomix into the Bayer family which secures a long-term future for Targenomix and its employees,” said Prof. Dr. Lothar Willmitzer, director emeritus of the MPI MPP and founder of Targenomix. “Targenomix’ unique expertise in systems and computational biology will significantly strengthen and broaden the capabilities of Bayer in the area of crop protection and beyond, and keeping Targenomix at arm’s length ensures that the spirit of Targenomix is maintained, a key requisite for its further success. Bayer’s decision to acquire Targenomix is another example of the high international recognition Max-Planck-Institutes enjoy for their science.”

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