Ag, Food Tech Innovator Pairwise Establishes Headquarters in Durham
Pairwise, a gene editing and plant technology start-up, is establishing its headquarters in leased space on the Golden Belt Campus in the heart of downtown Durham.
The company said the move “represents a commitment to growth in a region ripe with innovation and engagement in the agricultural technology industry.”
“Pairwise is focused on improving produce and row crops to address consumer needs for affordable, healthy, convenient and sustainable food,” said Pairwise CEO Tom Adams, Ph.D. “Our facilities in Durham, the talent we have recruited, and the close proximity to like-minded life science businesses and organizations will help us make this vision a reality. Establishing our headquarters in Durham will allow us to focus on research and development, as well as growing our business and becoming an active member in the local community”
“North Carolina is home to a diverse agriculture base that includes not only a wide range of crops, but emerging technologies in life sciences from agriculture to pharmaceuticals,” said Pairwise Chief Business Officer Haven Baker, Ph.D. “Durham itself is home to a mix of education, science and art which makes it a great place to build a company. We’re excited to establish our presence in a city, and state that thrives on its diversity of growth opportunities.”
About the Pairwise Founders
Adams has more than 30 years of genomics and biotechnology research experience, including 20 years at Monsanto where he most recently led the company’s Biotechnology organization.
Baker is the former senior vice president and general manager of Simplot Plant Sciences, where he was responsible for launching the Innate Potato.
David Liu, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, faculty member at the Broad Institute, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. At Harvard, Liu pioneered base editing, a new form of gene editing, and evolved genome editing agents with improved properties compared to their natural forms.
J. Keith Joung, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of Editas Medicine in 2013 and associate chief of pathology for research and the Jim and Ann Orr Research Scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Feng Zhang, Ph.D., is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, as well as the James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience at MIT, in the departments of brain and cognitive sciences. Zhang developed the CRISPR-Cas9 system for gene editing in eukaryotic cells and continues to identify and adapt gene-editing tools including CRISPR-Cas12s (Cpf1) and CRISPR-Cas13s.
They founded Pairwise to leverage the natural diversity in agricultural crops in new ways to address global food and health challenges. The company is developing new genomic technologies it intends to make available to a wide array of food and agriculture companies spanning row and specialty crops, fruits and vegetables.
Since announcing the company’s formation in March 2018, its leadership has expanded to include:
- Ryan Rapp, head of product discovery
- Aaron Hummel, head of genome editing technology
- Mike Mann, head of trait development pipeline
- Ian Miller, vice president of business operations
- Heather Hudson, head of collaborations and portfolio management
- Jason Goode, director of business development
- Amy Lewis, head of human resources
The company now has about 50 employees, and anticipates hiring 30 to 40 more through 2019.
NCBiotech assisted in company's Triangle move
Pairwise has already engaged with The North Carolina Biotechnology Center as an important resource for establishing a collaborative network in the region.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity for NCBiotech to bring together our capabilities in science, business and agriculture with partner institutions across the community to enable this excellent outcome,” said Laura Rowley, Ph.D., the Biotech Center’s director of life science economic development. “North Carolina’s historic strengths in agriculture and burgeoning expertise in gene editing, make Pairwise a great fit for our talented labor pool. We are thrilled to welcome Pairwise to the Triangle.”
The Golden Belt Campus is a 320,000 square-foot historic mill that once facilitated textile and tobacco operations and is the only remaining 1900s-era conversion opportunity of its kind in the area. With a 36,000-square-foot space in the newly renovated multi-building, mixed-use Golden Belt Campus, Pairwise will complement its presence in the Research Triangle Park, where it currently has 24,000 square feet of greenhouse and an additional 30,000 square feet of space for additional research and development at 110 T.W. Alexander Drive.
In the spring of 2019, the research and development team and executives will move to the location downtown, while additional team members will remain in RTP at the plant growth and testing facilities.
“Pairwise is a forward-thinking company and an ideal tenant for the Golden Belt Campus,” said Ed Kulik, the co-owner of LRC Properties which is a managing member of Golden Belt Campus. “We are excited to see how this new office and lab location will enable their company to further expand their research and continue to make breakthroughs in healthy and sustainable food production.”
NAI Carolantic Realty brokers Robin Roseberry Anders, SIOR, and Jordan Williams, MBA, represent the Golden Belt Campus. Pairwise was represented by Don Shupe and Heath Chapman of CBRE in the lease.