About Us

Dr Renée Prins established CenGen (Pty) Ltd in 2003 in the town of Worcester in the Breede River Valley of the Western Cape, South Africa, to create a plant genetics platform. At the same time it created the opportunity for skilled personnel to continue their careers in science, despite being based far from major academic centra. From a humble beginning as an owner-managed business, CenGen developed into a fully-fledged enterprise that provides specialised R&D services to plant breeders and the agricultural industry. The team is implementing new strategic and business processes on a continuous basis, in order to be fit for the future in an environment of ongoing technology innovation.

A primary focus at CenGen is to provide services on par with international standards. Therefore, an effort is made to visit international conferences and laboratories on a regular basis and to maintain strong links with international peers and collaborators. The Research and Development outputs of CenGen are testimony to this goal.

One of the most exciting endeavours CenGen recently undertook was a disease resistance gene cloning attempt with an expert team at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Apart from the value of having the actual gene sequence, the knowledge transfer in advanced genomics approaches to South African scientists was invaluable.

Similarly, we strive to establish a solid foundation of bioinformatics knowledge, and a sound understanding of how to implement bioinformatics tools in agri-research. We leverage high-performance cloud computing capabilities to handle vast amounts of data with speed and accuracy. Recently, our work has extended to whole genome sequencing and assembly of endemic plant species. This has allowed us to establish valuable genomic resources and methods for working with complex plant genomics.


Dr. Renée Prins

Renée Prins obtained a PhD in Genetics from Stellenbosch University. Because of her plant genetics and -breeding background, she has a key interest in working with plant and pathogen species that are important to agriculture. Besides focussing on the implementation of research outputs, Renée has achieved NRF-rating in the past and remains involved in training post-graduate students based either at the CenGen site or off-site at other South African universities. She is an Associate Professor Extraordinary, Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University (SU).

In her research projects she actively strives to develop and apply tools much needed by the plant breeding community and implement genomic technologies to the benefit of the Agri-sector.


Dr. Xolelwa Zulu

Dr Prins met Dr. Zulu in 2018 on a scientific tour to the UK, hosted by the British High Commission and Agbiz Grain. At the time, Dr. Zulu  was the Science and Innovation Attaché for the British High Commission in Pretoria. Dr. Zulu holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is currently reading for a Master of Science in Technology and Innovation Management at the University of Pretoria- conducting research on the review of South African RDI policies and associated policy instruments in RDI investments. In 2019, she was appointed as the Deputy Chair of the Locally Engaged Staff Association (LESA) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government.

She has previously led the Beef Genomics Project (BGP), at the University of Pretoria and has, apart from scientific knowledge, extensive experience in project management, the acquisition of funding, innovation management, scientific research investment, and development of international collaborations and relations – a skill set that complements our research and operations tremendously.

She is currently the manager for Strategic Research, Development, and Innovation Programs at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, where part of her responsibilities includes overseeing and supporting the development and implementation of the CSIR Research, Development, and Innovation (RD&I) strategy.

She leads and guides investment funding (+R1bn), effectively designs, develops programs, and efficiently aligns resources to the strategy. She also ensures the alignment of the human capital development strategy with the RD&I strategy. She was appointed as an Independent Director of CenGen in December 2019.

Overview of Commercial Initiatives,
Excluding Breeding Partners








Recent Publications

CenGen Strengthens Academic Ties with SU and UFS

Unveiling A Fine New Project

Congratulations are in order!