SASKATOON -- An Israeli genomics company is opening an office in Saskatoon, the province announced Wednesday.

NRGene is a firm that helps agricultural companies improve the breeding of crops and farm animals using a combination of genetics research and artificial intelligence.

NRGene will recruit skilled geneticists and data scientists to their new office in Saskatoon, the province says.

“This announcement is good news for Saskatchewan and it is a positive sign that the province’s investment climate remains strong, despite the current challenges due to the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said in the release.

“NRGene will be a great fit for Saskatchewan’s agricultural sciences cluster, bringing good jobs and capacity that will enhance our innovative ag-tech and increasing productivity in the agri-food sector."

The Government of Saskatchewan has been working with NRGene since 2015, having been involved in Saskatchewan’s wheat genome project demonstrating how advanced genomics technology can boost wheat yield.

Since then, NRGene has worked with the University of Saskatchewan, the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and additional local commercial companies and academia.

In January 2020, it was announced that an international consortium, including GIFS researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and NRGene, had successfully completed the assembly of multiple canola reference genomes — baseline genetic information which can lead to further advances.

“With the world-class agricultural research cluster in Saskatoon, the burgeoning ag-tech sector, and such a strong history of primary production, we see in Canada a natural location for NRGene to expand its operations,” NRGene CEO and co-founder Dr. Gil Ronen said in the release.

“We know this firsthand, having recently collaborated on the exciting genomics projects in wheat and canola, so we are pleased to make this important investment in Saskatchewan.”