Science & Technology
6:56 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Ag Biotech Showcase Presents Top NC Talent

Leoneda Inge reports on growing Ag Biotech industry.

Sunflowers grown at new lab at Syngenta in RTP.
Credit Leoneda Inge

Some of the top, fast-emerging Ag Biotech companies in North Carolina pitched their goods before investors yesterday in RTP.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center hosted its first Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase.  The competition was fierce since the state is known world-wide as a top spot for Ag Biotech.   

The winner: Nova Synthetix in Research Triangle Park.  The new company presented the case for modifying the genes of plant cells, specifically castor, to make it toxin free and easier to produce in the US.  Today, castor is mainly cultivated in India.  Castor is found in solvents, lubricants and plastics. 

Nova Synthetix Co-founder Don Walters says eliminating the toxin can expand this billion dollar renewable bio-material.

“Essentially, it’s poised for success.  Our technology has been proven, in a number of different ways, we are pretty highly confident it’ll work," said Walters.

Another company pitching at the showcase, Advanced Animal Diagnostics, which developed a way to early detect mastitis in dairy cows.  The winner of the showcase will present at next year’s CED Life Sciences Conference.

Paul Ulanch is part o the Ag Biotech team at the NC Biotechnology Center.  He says the showcase was designed to help cultivate start-ups and more.

"As well as what can we do to help the future pipeline of new developments, university researchers, or scientists at the companies?"  said Ulanch.  "What can we do to help them provide the future vision of maybe themselves becoming either innovators or inventors or maybe even entrepreneurs?"

North Carolina is home to more than 80 Ag Biotech companies.  The headquarters or installations of five of the world's largest Ag Biotech companies are also in the state, including Syngenta, BASF and Bayer CropScience.