Triangle AgBio company benefits from growing locally

AgBiome employees in growth chamber lab
AgBiome has taken advantage of BTEC’s bioprocess services while developing its first product. Pictured in the growth chamber lab at the firm’s Research Triangle Park facility are (left to right) Kelly Smith, director of microbials development; Amber Smith, plant pathologist; and Mark Roberts, fermentation and formulation scientist.

What’s an emerging biotech company to do when it needs help taking its product to the next level? AgBiome, LLC, found that BTEC’s Bioprocess and Analytical Services team could provide all they needed.

Located in Research Triangle Park, AgBiome uses new knowledge of the plant-associated microbiome to create innovative products for agriculture. Its research is focused on identifying novel microbes in soils and from plants, such as corn and soybeans, that can lead to more productive crops. In 2014, the company needed to find a fermentation facility capable of producing enough cell mass for field trials. It discovered the optimum solution right down the road on NC State University’s Centennial Campus. Over the course of the next year, the company transferred its bench-scale process to BTEC, directed scale-up experiments, and then ordered several lots of material for proof-of-concept testing. Working with BTEC allowed company researchers to easily transfer materials, pick up samples, and participate in many of the fermentation runs.

AgBiome was established in 2012 and already has 36 full-time and 14 part-time employees. The company recently raised $34.5 million from investors and plans to plow these funds into research and development and the anticipated launch of its first product. In early 2016, AgBiome will move into a new 30,000-square-foot facility, which includes a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse. The firm’s new space will be able to accommodate up to 70 employees.

BTEC began offering bioprocess and analytical services in 2009 to utilize unused capacity, provide extra revenues to compensate for shrinking state funding, and bolster its curricula. University researchers and start-up companies use BTEC’s services to advance their technol- ogies at prices they can afford. Since 2009, BTEC’s project portfolios and associated revenues have grown 20% annually. BTEC hopes to increase this growth rate as it builds its client base and adds new technologies to its portfolio.