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US (NC): Spanish biotech company opens North American HQ

PlantResponse, a plant biotechnology company based in Madrid, has established its North American headquarters in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park and is looking for permanent facilities in the area.

“Opening an office here in the Research Triangle is well aligned with our current growth strategy,” said Tom Snipes, the company’s chief executive officer. He said the area “is well-known as a global hub for agricultural innovation technology, making this the perfect epicenter for our North American operations.”

Tom Snipes, PlantResponse CEO -- PlantResponse Photo

While it scouts permanent office and greenhouse space in the Triangle region, PlantResponse is leasing temporary space in RTP at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center through the Center’s Landing Pad program. The program helps newly arrived bioscience companies establish a presence in the state by providing prime office space and professional services.

NCBiotech staff “have been absolutely wonderful to work with and continue to be,” Snipes said. “They did a great job of facilitating introductions and identifying infrastructure in the area.”

PlantResponse considered locating on the West Coast and St. Louis before choosing North Carolina, Snipes said.

North Carolina location key to North American market
“This location will help us focus in on areas of concern to North American growers in our research and field work,” Snipes said. “We’ll be working on adapting our proprietary solutions for management of plant disease, stress and drought conditions for this market.”

The North American headquarters will house PlantResponse’s commercial leadership, supply chain, product management and sales teams.

PlantResponse has about 20 employees now, mostly in Spain, but has begun hiring for the North American office. Snipes said the company’s workforce would likely double in the next 18 to 24 months, split evenly between North Carolina and Spain.

Specializing in plant-innate immunity, the company is developing novel natural products that confer drought resistance, increase yield and enhance plant responses to stress. The products reduce the need for chemicals, enabling more sustainable crop production.

Product field trials are under way in four U.S. states but not in North Carolina, Snipes said. Most of that work is focused on traditional row crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton.

“Our products have wide applicability across crops,” he said.

The company is testing products including Neptunion, a plant metabolite that promotes plant development under drought conditions, and Cybelion, an extract derived from fungal cells that induces plant innate immunity, improving plant health and promoting growth.

PlantResponse is a privately held company that was spun out of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in 2008. It has headquarters, labs and greenhouses in Madrid and greenhouses and open fields in Murcia, Spain, dedicated to conducting field trials under production conditions for crops including vegetables, cereals, citrus and more.

The company has more than 20 collaborations in Europe and will be looking to establish collaborations in the U.S., Snipes said.

Source: North Carolina Biotech Center (Barry Teater)
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