Pappas Capital, SAS Shepherd Global Growth for NC Ag, Food Startups

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A partnership between North Carolina analytics leader SAS and life sciences capital firm Pappas Capital is staged to help the state become a global leader in agricultural technology.

The collaboration was born to benefit select N.C. agricultural and food startups with executive leadership, strategic guidance, access to analytics software, data science expertise and cloud services. 

According to Paula Henderson, executive vice president and chief sales officer for the Americas at SAS, “North Carolina has an unrivaled combination of leading technology companies, a thriving entrepreneurial community, major research universities and international agriculture corporations committed to innovation in the agricultural technology (AgTech) industry. SAS and Pappas hope to harness this ecosystem, to put the state at the forefront of solving the grand challenges of global hunger and food scarcity.”

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As with any good partnership, the roles are well defined. While Pappas is funding ag tech companies that have the potential to transform North Carolina’s agricultural industry with financial investments, SAS is supporting agricultural up-and-comers with advanced analytics software and services they often must do without. The main objective is to help foster innovation for more agricultural companies across the state.

In 2020, North Carolina’s agricultural industry was comprised of approximately 4.4 million workers (or one in six North Carolinians) who contributed more than $91 billion to the state’s economy. The Research Triangle alone boasts more than 100 ag tech companies, as well as North Carolina State University’s renowned Plant Sciences Initiative, a program designed to solve some of the most challenging agricultural issues of our time like defeating plant pathogens and bolstering crop resilience. 

According to Karen LeVert, a Pappas venture partner, “Pappas and SAS offer significant potential to strengthen the state’s entrepreneur community and drive economic growth, while at the same time furthering the development of new technology-based solutions and tools to improve the health and function of plants, animals and microorganisms.”

Boragen, Inc., a local startup pioneering a platform using the element boron to create new molecules that fight plant disease, is already realizing success with the help of SAS analytics and funding from Pappas. The company says its platform has broader applications beyond agriculture reaching into the areas of human and animal health.

“The Boragen story is an example for what we hope to accomplish for AgTech companies across the
state,” said LeVert.

LeVert and Pappas are both members of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center board of directors – Pappas as a member of the board’s executive committee. NCBiotech has provided early loans and other bootstrap support to dozens of cutting-edge agricultural startups across the state.

JP Wallace, NCBiotech Writer
Thu, 10/21/2021 - 17:00