Nine agricultural biotechnology companies from North Carolina and five other states will present their novel solutions to various problems at a one-day Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase event May 19 at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

The companies are using innovative technology to produce specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals in tobacco plants, regenerate tissues in injured horses, grow food under LED lights, wipe out bedbugs with a biopesticide, diagnose pathogens in livestock, control crop insects and produce enzymes.

The annual Showcase is intended to drive commercialization by presenting investment-ready ag technologies to an audience of nearly 200 entrepreneurs, investors, tech scouts, researchers and others.

In addition to the nine company presentations, attendees at the Research Triangle Park event will hear discussions on funding opportunities for ag biotech companies, forging international partnerships, and commercializing new technologies.

A keynote session will highlight the importance of innovation to all industry, including agribusiness, and the need for entrepreneurs to solve global problems. The speaker will be Paul Mugge, innovation professor and executive director of the Center for Innovative Management Studies in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University.

At a concluding keynote session, two successful entrepreneurs from the crop biotech and animal health sectors will share their stories of creating value and bringing their innovations from the lab to the marketplace. The speakers will be Joy Parr Drach, president and CEO of Advanced Animal Diagnostics of Morrisville, and Dan Meagher, CEO of Agrivida of Medford, Mass.

A luncheon and evening reception will encourage networking.

The event is sponsored by Alexandria, Smith Anderson, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, K&L Gates, and McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert and Berghoff LLP.

Following are summaries of the nine presenting companies:

  • AgBiome, of Durham, is discovering and developing traits and biologicals for growers, with a history of product discovery and commercialization of its technology via partnerships with established industry brands, and will approach cash neutral in late 2015. In the first 19 months of lab operations the company has isolated, characterized, and sequenced over 24,000 novel bacterial strains, and discovered more than 800 potential insect-control genes.
  • Aperiomics, of Ashburn, Va., is revolutionizing pathogen testing with a proprietary platform and is focused on pathogens of public and animal health importance. Aperiomics’ Absolute*NGS Pathogen Detection Platform uses a combination of sophisticated next-generation DNA sequencing and advanced bioinformatics analysis to identify simultaneously all pathogens in any sample.
  • ConidioTec, of State College, Penn., has developed Aprehend, a new biopesticide for control and prevention of bedbugs. The product uses Beauveria bassiana, a type of fungi that is natural and harmless to humans and has previously been used to control horticultural and agricultural pests. The company’s patent-pending technology enables both prevention and complete eradication of bedbugs after a single application.
  • Edison Agrosciences, of Durham, is using biotechnology to enable production of alternative crops such as natural rubber, which is essential for the manufacture of thousands of products including tires and cannot be replaced with synthetics. Increasing demand for goods containing natural rubber will result in a shortfall of 25 percent by 2020. Current production methods and crops are economically and environmentally unsustainable.
  • Enzerna Biosciences, of Chapel Hill, is developing technologies to create sequence-specific RNA processing enzymes for any target of choice.
  • NellOne Therapeutics, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., is using a novel protein to regenerate tissues to restore healthy, normal lives to horses with severe tissue injuries such as deep wounds and torn tendons and ligaments, especially in the limbs. These injuries would typically end the promising careers of high-value performance horses because they are hard to heal, costly to treat and lead to scarring and permanent disability or death.
  • PhytoSynthetix, of Athens, Ga., is aiming to make indoor food production more efficient. Its technology is a “biophotonic” feedback system that allows LED grow lights to communicate with plants, increasing food production while reducing energy consumption.
  • SynShark, of College Station, Texas, and Cornelius, N.C., has developed a more sustainable way to produce squalene, a substance harvested from shark livers for use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics markets. The company is using a novel approach to photosynthesis efficiency and storage to produce squalene in tobacco plants, easing the catch pressure on sharks.
  • Tyton BioEnergy Systems, of Danville, Va., is using a specialized tobacco technology platform to produce a variety of chemical building blocks for biofuels and other industrial and agricultural products. Tyton’s patented non-smoking tobacco outperforms corn, soy and other cellulosic feedstocks.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center