AgTech Accelerator Adds Elanco as Investor, Closes on $20M
By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
AgTech Accelerator, a new Research Triangle Park firm focused on discovering and developing emerging agricultural technology companies, has closed on an additional $8.5 million in financing, nearly doubling its capital since its launch in May and bringing its total investments to $20 million.
Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Co., led the round with participation from existing investors, including Bayer, Syngenta Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Harris & Harris Group, Inc., Hatteras Venture Partners, Mountain Group Capital and Pappas Capital. Elanco has a major production facility in Greensboro.
“We look forward to joining AgTech Accelerator in working collaboratively across the agriculture technology continuum to bring new ideas to life,” Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco and senior vice president of Eli Lilly and Company, said in a news release. “We believe this effort can make a difference in shaping a future with sustainable health outcomes for people, animals and the planet.”
Simmons noted that more than 20 percent of livestock productivity is lost worldwide to death and disease and that better animal health is key to improving global food security, combating antimicrobial resistance and meeting other challenges in food production.
Established earlier in 2016
AgTech Accelerator was established this year to identify, form, finance and manage emerging agriculture companies to develop technologies that address the world’s growing population, related food and water shortages and supply chain constraints.
“This is a really exciting time across all sectors of agriculture given the active consolidation of the large, traditional players,” said Kristina Burow, managing director at ARCH Venture Partners and member of the AgTech Accelerator board. “Talent pools are being unlocked and market forces are triggering the opportunity for unprecedented innovation and collaboration. The AgTech Accelerator plays a significant role in helping us take advantage of these new and really intriguing investment opportunities.”
AgTech Accelerator’s website says the firm will build upon the successful approach of its strategic partner, Seattle-based Accelerator Corporation, “a capital-efficient vehicle for investment in and management of emerging biotechnology opportunities,” founded in 2003.
“AgTech Accelerator companies will access and integrate novel technology, research, incubation and product development capabilities in one of the most diversified agriculture life science ecosystems in the United States,” the website says.
Ready to provide facilities, efficiencies, expertise
AgTech Accelerator said it can provide its companies a shared management team, committed investors, academic collaborations and access to more than 1 million square-feet of rentable office, lab and greenhouse facilities in the Research Triangle Park through Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
The company has research collaborations with the Triangle area’s three major universities – Duke, North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – as well as Penn State University, Purdue University, Washington State University and the University of California-Davis.
AgTech Accelerator has recruited veteran bioscience industry leaders to its management team, board of directors and scientific advisory board including some names well known in North Carolina’s bioscience community such as Ken Lee, Art Pappas and Eric Ward.
The company is led by CEO John Dombrosky, a former Syngenta executive, and its chief scientific officer is Jeff Rosichan, Ph.D., a former technology leader at Dow AgroSciences.
“AgTech Accelerator is a key stakeholder in our high-tech agricultural community,” said Scott Johnson, vice president of agricultural biotechnology at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
“Such investments represent the fertile environment we have in North Carolina for ag entrepreneurship and why our state has the largest cluster of high-tech agricultural companies in the world. Closing on this round of investment in the AgTech Accelerator validates the opportunities for agricultural innovation in North Carolina and the willingness to support our world-class ecosystem by local companies.”