RTP’s emerging AgTech Accelerator is gearing up for business with a total of $20 million in funding. Itself a new venture, the agtech-focused venture on Wednesday disclosed raising another $8.5 million. Its top exec says two to three “well-capitalized” startups will be launched per year.

“Working with our university partners, advisory board and industry networks, we are building a deep database of emerging technologies,” CEO John Dombrosky told WRAL Tech Wire.

“We have had tremendous inbound interest, reviewing more than 150 technologies since our launch in May. We will form and fund new businesses when the timing makes best sense, likely two to three well capitalized start-ups per year on a rolling basis.”

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AgTech Accelerator debuted with $11.5 million in funding built around a strategy of identifying and helping grow new ventures focusing on agriculture technology.

Elanco, which focuses on animal health and food production, led the latest tranche of financing. It is part of Eli Lilly.

Other backers include Hatteras Venture Partners and Pappas Capital in the Triangle along with Bayer, Syngenta Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Mountain Group Capital and Harris & Harris Group.

The first investments are likely to be announced soon.

“We should be in a position to announce our first deals in late fourth quarter 2016 [and] early Q1 2017,” Dombrosky said.

Why invest?

“Today, more than 20 percent of livestock productivity is lost to death and disease globally. While we’ve made important advances in animal health, we still have significant unmet health needs that must be addressed if we’re to tackle today’s challenges – from improving global food security to combatting antimicrobial resistance,” said Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco and senior vice president of Eli Lilly, in the announcement.

“We look forward to joining AgTech Accelerator in working collaboratively across the agriculture technology continuum to bring new ideas to life. We believe this effort can make a difference in shaping a future with sustainable health outcomes for people, animals and the planet.”