Agricultural biotech startup AgroSpheres will invest $25 million to expand in Albemarle County, creating an estimated 50 jobs, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Thursday.
The company will increase production at its facility at 1180 Seminole Trail and build a research and development and demonstration facility for new products, which will be a pilot plant for a potential larger manufacturing operation.
“Thanks to innovative companies like AgroSpheres, Virginia is quickly becoming a hub for cutting-edge developments in agriculture technology,” Youngkin said in a statement. “As the commonwealth’s largest private sector industry, agriculture is engrained in the foundation of our economy. We are proud that Virginia-educated entrepreneurs took a leap that is paying off.”
Founded in the Charlottesville area, AgroSpheres has two patented technologies, AgriCell and AgriShell, that aid the development of biological pesticides with multiyear shelf lives. AgriCell is a biodegradable delivery technology. It makes manufacturing and delivering biomolecules, small molecules and semiochemicals in the field at a reduced dose cost-effective, according to a news release.
“We are blessed to have started AgroSpheres in one of the best states to do business. There is no better place to build our company than right here in Charlottesville,” AgroSpheres founder and CEO Payam Pourtaheri said in a statement. “The Commonwealth of Virginia is a strong supporter of biotech, from providing investments to establishing a major biotech institute in Charlottesville, to grant administration by the Virginia Catalyst and the Commonwealth Commercialization Fund to supporting R&D.”
In 2019, the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corp. provided a $600,000 grant to AgroSpheres through its Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Albemarle County to secure the project for Virginia. Youngkin approved a $200,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the county. VEDP will support AgroSpheres through the three-year Virginia Jobs Investment Program, which provides cash grant reimbursements for associated human resources costs after a company has had new employees on the payroll for at least 90 days.