RTP New Global BASF Plant Science HQ
BASF Plant Science researchers study stress-tolerant crops. Courtesy of BASF.
North Carolina’s global leadership in agricultural biotechnology was further solidified this week with the announcement by BASF that it would establish its global Plant Science headquarters in the Research Triangle Park.
The company’s growing R&D facility in Research Triangle Park, established in 1999, was already serving as the North American headquarters. The Plant Science business division employs some 200 here, and BASF also has another 580 workers in the Crop Protection Chemicals business unit.
Bijay Singh, Ph.D., research manager for BASF Plant Science in RTP, noted during the 2011 Biotechnology Roundtable hosted by Business North Carolina magazine that the company considered numerous locations before originally moving to North Carolina.
“We already had a presence in New Jersey in very nice facilities,” he said. “But we ultimately decided to move into North Carolina because of the university system, the Research Triangle Park, the presence of different ag-biotech companies, the availability of employees who can be readily hired, all these things. But one piece that I didn’t know, because I moved from Princeton, was about the great weather in North Carolina.”
|BASF scientists enhance crop efficiency at RTP headquarters. Copyright BASF.|
BASF announced that European resistance to plant biotechnology led to the decision to move the Plant Science headquarters from Limburgerhof, Germany, to RTP. Some 140 jobs will be cut in Europe as a result of the move, and some of those employees are expected to move to North Carolina.
Some research and development activities will also continue in Ghent, Belgium and Berlin, Germany.
BASF Plant Science will continue its work on improving yield and stress, such as drought and flood resistance, tolerance in various crops. The company collaborates with Monsanto in R&D for corn, soy, cotton, canola and wheat.
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s AgBiotech Initiative has been actively working with partners statewide to expand N.C.’s $74 billion annual agriculture economy to $100 billion by 2020. More than 70 ag biotech companies have already put down roots in North Carolina, including other international giants such as Bayer CropScience, DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred, Monsanto, Novozymes and Syngenta.
They employ more than 4,000 North Carolinians – and they’re all growing.
|The main campus of BASF in RTP includes offices, greenhouses and labs. Courtesy of BASF.|
One BASF Plant Science researcher, David Hubert, Ph.D., initially served two years with the company as part of the initial class of Biotechnology Center Industrial Fellows, starting in 2008. The former Ph.D. student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now works at BASF Plant Science full-time.
So far the Biotech Center has provided more than $13 million in funding for ag biotech projects statewide. That funding includes commercialization of new technologies arising from research, and field trials at the state’s 18 research stations.
Scientists at numerous unique new ag biotech research facilities are developing products and processes in North Carolina greenhouses and labs that contribute daily to improvements in food, fuel and fiber around the world.
The $13.5 million Alexandria Ag-Technology Center, a unique high-tech incubator facility with labs and greenhouses for start-up agricultural firms, is about to open near Research Triangle Park this summer.
Syngenta is completing a $71 million expansion of its ag biotech facility in Research Triangle Park. Nearby, Medicago has recently opened its $42 million vaccine manufacturing plant to grow flu vaccine components in the cells of tobacco leaves.