Bayer and Syngenta join incubator for university agtech

A mix of strategic and venture investors plan to build faculty research at seven US universities into digital, biotech and genomics agri companies.

Bayer and Syngenta Ventures have invested in a $11.5 million raise to turn university research into agtech start-ups.

The incubator, AgTech Accelerator, looks to raise between $25 million and $30 million to build four to six bespoke companies from university research on agtech, biotech, genomics and a number of other fields, the company’s chief executive John Dombrosky told Agri Investor. The raise was led by Alexandria Ventures.

“We’re technologically agnostic. We’re going to look at everything from digital to biotechnology to genomics. We’ll really be opportunistic as we look to build those businesses,” said Dombrosky. “What we’re really after here is to build a great ecosystem for ag that flourishes for entrepreneurs.”

The company already has memoranda of understanding with seven US research institutes: Duke University, North Carolina State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, University of California Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington State University. The AgTech Accelerator team hopes to provide management and business infrastructure to faculty research projects in order to bring them to a Series A raise.

The company hopes to partner with four to six more universities in the next year, said Dombrosky.

Alexandria Venture Investments is the venture capital arm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a real estate investment trust (REIT), that focuses on science and technology campuses in “innovation clusters,” including in Research Triangle Park, where AgTech Accelerator is based.

The consortium backing AgTech Accelerator includes a number of venture partners including Pappas Capital, Mountain Group Capital, Hatteras Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Flagship Ventures and ARCH Venture Partners.

“Our venture investors will expect early-stage venture level returns,” said Dombrosky.