An accelerator focused on developing agricultural technology startups that launched in Research Triangle Park in the spring has raised an additional $8.5 million in funding.
The new funding led by Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Co., boosts the total funding raised to date by AgTech Accelerator to $20 million.
Although the accelerator anticipates another infusion of cash by the end of this year, CEO John Dombrosky said that he and his team have already started to pivot toward potential startup deals and he hopes to be able to announce initial deals in the first quarter of 2017.
AgTech Accelerator is designed to appeal to technology founders who want to avoid the day-to-day hassles of getting a company up and running. In addition to providing between $500,000 and $4 million in initial funding, the AgTech team will serve as the initial management team for each startup.
Dombrosky said the accelerator already has cultivated a pipeline of nearly 200 possible startups, including 15 or 20 originating in the Triangle.
“Those that aren’t based here in the Triangle, the interesting thing to note is that there is a pretty wide openness to locating a business here,” Dombrosky said.
AgTech Accelerator has four full-time employees – a chief scientific officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, in addition to Dombrosky – and anticipates adding some support staff with its new funding.
The accelerator’s goal is to raise $25 million to $30 million from investors.
The Triangle already is a major agricultural biotechnology center. Agbio giants such as BASF, Bayer and Syngenta are major employers locally, and in recent years a bumper crop of industry startups has emerged.
Bayer and the venture capital arm of Syngenta, plus local venture capital firms Hatteras Venture Partners and Pappas Ventures, participated in both the accelerator’s initial funding and its latest round.