Startups in the agricultural technology, or agtech, sector are getting a boost in capital availability with the formal launch of the AgTech Accelerator in RTP. Some big backers are among the funders, with $11.5 million kicked in to start.

Local investors include:

  • Hatteras Venture Partners in Durham (General Partner Ken Lee is also on the board)
  • Pappas Capital in RTP (Founder Art Pappas also is on the board)
  • Alexandria Venture Investments (its parent firm has a big and growing presence in RTP)

Bayer and Syngenta Ventures; ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures and Harris & Harris Group, Inc. also are backing the new startup investment venture.

The Triangle region is a big hub for agtech, reflected by the presence of multiple crop science firms.

  • More coverage:
  • Exclusive Q&A with accelerator’s CEO
  • IInside the Accelerator – what it offers

Giving the accelerator a further boost, Alexandria, the lead investor, will provide more than 1 million of square feet of office, lab and greenhouse space.

There’s more to AgTech Accelerator than funding, stressed its CEO in the launch announcement, noting the access to facilities and to collaboration potential.

“Businesses that serve the agriculture industry must convert increasingly complex and integrated early-stage technology into differentiated solutions and products,” explained John Dombrosky, the CEO who is a 20-year industry veteran and formerly worked at Syngenta.

“This necessitates new, external innovation and collaboration models.

“Our unique model fosters a ‘new entrepreneurialism in agriculture,’ enabling new startups to fill a wide variety of important AgTech innovation gaps.”

AgTech Accelerator also has secured collaboration partnerships with Duke University, North Carolina State University; Penn State University; Purdue University; University of California, Davis; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Washington State University.

Another partner is Accelerator Corp., which has supported life science efforts in Seattle and New York for more than a decade.

The founders say AgTech Accelerator “will create the next generation of companies embracing the shift toward collaboration and external innovation in agribusiness today.”

AgTech Executive Leadership

The AgTech Accelerator has two executive officers and also has assembled a board of directors as well as an advisory board.

Leadership Team:

• John W. Dombrosky, CEO of AgTech Accelerator
• Jeff Rosichan, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of AgTech Accelerator

Board of Directors:

• Kristina Burow, managing director of ARCH Venture Partners
• Joe Cook Jr., principal of Mountain Group Partners
• John W. Dombrosky, CEO of AgTech Accelerator
• Doug W. Jamison, managing director, chairman of the board and CEO of Harris & Harris Group
• Roger Kemble, Ph.D., president of Kemble Advisors and former head of Syngenta Biotechnology R&D
• Geoff Kneen, Ph.D., R&D licensing and new ventures manager, North America of Bayer’s Crop Science division
• Thong Q. Le, CEO of Accelerator Corporation
• Ken Lee, general partner of Hatteras Venture Partners
• Joel S. Marcus, chairman, CEO and founder of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. and Alexandria Venture Investments
• Ignacio Martinez, partner of Flagship Ventures
• Derek Norman, Ph.D., head of corporate venture capital of Syngenta
• Art Pappas, MBA, managing partner of Pappas Capital

Advisory Board:

• John R. Anderson Jr., Ph.D., MBA, president of Roanoke Research LLC and former director, technology development of Monsanto Company
• Doug Cameron, co-president of First Green Partners, and former chief scientist and research director of Cargill
• Roger Kemble, Ph.D., president of Kemble Advisors and former head of Syngenta Biotechnology R&D
• Jeff Rosichan, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of AgTech Accelerator
• Eric Ward, co-CEO and co-founder of AgBiome

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