North Carolina startup ag tech expo shows promise

May 17, 2016, 12:19 PM EDT
(Source: F_A/flickr)
(Source: F_A/flickr)

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center will host the Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase 2016 on Wednesday. 12 agricultural biotech companies from North Carolina, seven other states, and even Portugal will share their innovative breakthrough technologies for crop and animal health advancements. For instance, by using microbials, they can improve crop health, yield, and profitability, without the need for genetic modification.

Two demonstrative examples include:

BENANOVA (North Carolina)
BENANOVA’s organic nanoparticles serve as carriers to better deliver bioactive agents. Today’s pest control treatments are not living up to their potential due to failure of effective delivery systems. These “Environmentally-benign Nanoparticles” (EbNPs) are loaded with actives and adhere to and better penetrate plant surfaces, resulting in 10 to 100 times higher bioactivity.

3Bar Biologics (Ohio)
3Bar Biologics sells yield-increasing microbial inoculants to farmers of corn, soy, and wheat. These farmers are struggling to maintain profitability as input costs rise while grain prices fall. 3Bar Biologics solves that problem with a patent pending delivery system, which is activated on-farm to deliver the most viable biologic product in the world, resulting in a typical return on investment for the farmer of five times. 

These investment-ready technologies will be presented to an audience of some 150 entrepreneurs, investors, tech scouts, researchers, and others. There will also be a focus on global markets, and the need for innovation across the food and agriculture value chain to meet the increasing demands of the world’s population, growing in numbers and affluence. The keynote speaker will be Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience's president, CEO, and head of crop protection for North America.

The need for ag tech innovation is pressing, particularly as climate change threatens to harm harvests in many parts of the world with more extreme weather patterns. Blouin News has previously reported on the potential benefits of genetically modified crops (with proper testing), although in some parts of the world they are castigated automatically as abominations. Some of these new ag tech firms’ use of new processes that could achieve some of the same results without genetically modifying the plants could be a happy middle ground. As a side bonus, expositions like this one reinforce the stature of North Carolina's "Research Triangle" as a hub of innovation across many technologies.