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UVa alumni expand eco-friendly agribusiness to second Albemarle County location

After launching an agricultural technology startup in 2017, two University of Virginia alumni are expanding with a new pilot production and operation space next to its headquarters on Seminole Trail.

Last week, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that AgroSpheres, the Albemarle County-based startup that makes environmentally friendly crop protection products, will use a $25 million investment to build the demonstration facility for new products.

“Thanks to innovative companies like AgroSpheres, Virginia is quickly becoming a hub for cutting-edge developments in agriculture technology,” Youngkin said in a statement on Thursday. “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 and the Commonwealth remains committed to ensuring an environment that fosters the growth of startups and small businesses.”

AgroSpheres will use the sizeable investment to construct a research, development and demonstration facility that is expected to create more than 50 new jobs, according to the statement from Youngkin’s office.

“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, Virginia,” said AgroSpheres CEO Payam Pourtaheri in a statement from the governor’s office. “Agriculture is this great state’s largest and oldest industry, and we hope to be leaders in moving our industry toward cleaner solutions.”

Pourtaheri and Ameer Shakeel co-founded AgroSpheres under the University of Virginia Licensing and Ventures Group in 2017 — the same year they graduated from UVa with bachelor’s degrees in engineering science and applied science, respectively.

According to the startup’s website, the pair of agribusiness entrepreneurs began searching for eco-friendly crop protection formulas, including sustainable pest control, before their graduation date six years ago. They have continued to expand the business since then.

Last year, AgroSpheres teamed up with German multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Bayer for a multi-year deal developing regulatory challenges — also known as novel modalities — for products that will be used for sustainable crop protection.

Pourtaheri and Shakeel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress about when AgroSpheres plans to break ground on the research and development space.


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