South Carolina life sciences is surging across the state, experts say see more
When describing today’s South Carolina’s life sciences industry, words like "surging" and “booming” are often mentioned.
Life sciences is diverse, with seven sectors: drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; digital health solutions; research, medical and testing laboratories; bioscience distribution; bio-agriculture and ecosystem support.
Surprisingly, life sciences are South Carolina’s fastest-growing industry -- not more expected industries like automotive, tires, or aerospace, notes Erin Ford, Interim CEO of SCBIO -- a nonprofit dedicated to building, advancing and growing life sciences here.
“A 2017 study by USC's Moore School of Business showed 402 life science companies in South Carolina – that’s grown to over 700 today. It employed over 43,000 South Carolinians and generated $12 billion in impact,” said Ms. Ford.
Development is the largest agriculture-based Opportunity Zone project in the nation see more
Environmental permitting is underway for the Agriculture-Technology Campus in Hampton County, with a goal of starting operations at the indoor farming supersite by the end of next year.
The $314 million development is being billed as the largest agriculture-based Opportunity Zone project in the nation. Its announcement last September at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus off Interstate 95 in Early Branch attracted hundreds of boosters, including the nation’s top farm official at the time in Sonny Perdue — the agriculture chief under former President Donald Trump.
Thing have been relatively quiet since then, but plenty of work has been taking place behind the scenes, said Kay Maxwell, marketing manager for the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance.
She said a group of precision farming specialists from the Netherlands spent months conducting studies at the industrial park to determine how greenhouses there can get the maximum benefit from sunlight, humidity and other weather conditions. The Netherlands is the world’s second-leading agricultural exporter, behind the United States, and has pioneered indoor growing techniques that use little water or soil and no pesticides.
More traditional studies — such as wetlands permitting and geotechnical engineering — are now taking place, Maxwell said. The alliance also is marketing the project to companies interested in either growing crops at the property or using an onsite packaging and distribution center to deliver South Carolina-grown products to store shelves.
“We have talked to companies as far as Europe and Asia, as well as a lot of domestic companies, that are very interested in South Carolina because of this project,” Maxwell said. “There are a lot of different avenues in which other companies can be involved.”
While the Ag-Tech Campus has five years to qualify for state and local tax credits, Maxwell said she expects some operations will begin much sooner.
The project also qualifies for a $7 million rural infrastructure grant from the state that would pass through Hampton County Council, though none of the funds have been released to date, according to the S.C. Commerce Department.
The Ag-Tech Campus is a partnership between Columbia-based finance group GEM Opportunity Fund and a trio of food and packaging firms that will grow produce in environmentally controlled greenhouses at the 1,000-acre site.
Zeb Portanova, chief executive of GEM, said in a March 30 interview with Fundviews Podcast that he had recently submitted a financing package for the project with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The agency is providing grants for Opportunity Zone projects, which are also eligible for federal tax breaks and fall under a program designed to encourage investment in low-income urban and rural communities.
Portanova has said the Ag-Tech Campus will create roughly 1,500 jobs by 2025. Another GEM project — a $30 million hemp growing and processing facility — will be nearby. Maxwell said greenhouses are already being constructed for the latter project, which is expected to create 107 jobs, and start operations by the end of this year.
Orangeburg, SC bio-ag facility included as part of acquisition see more
Syngenta Group has announced the acquisition of Valagro, a leading Biologicals company, by its business unit Syngenta Crop Protection. The investment positions Syngenta Crop Protection as one of the key global companies poised to shape the rapidly growing Biologicals market, which is set to nearly double in size over the next five years. Valagro will continue to operate as an independent brand in the market within the Syngenta Crop Protection business.
Valagro, a leader in the development, production and marketing of biostimulant and advanced nutrient solutions for cash and row crops, began construction of its Orangeburg, South Carolina plant in October 2019 with a groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by members of the local community, esteemed guests, state representatives, as well as members of federal government. Consistent with Valagro’s commitment to innovation, the now-operational plant has introduced cutting-edge technologies for the production of plant biostimulants and chelated micronutrients in the United States. The opening of the production site also created nearly 50 new advanced manufacturing jobs.
Valagro is a market-leading producer of innovative Biologicals, with a ~10% CAGR from 2009-2019 and an approximate revenue of $175m in 2019. The company has excelled by harnessing the power of nature to provide innovative and effective solutions for plant nutrition and care. With 40 years of experience, it offers its customers a comprehensive crop portfolio in Biologicals with a market-leading position in biostimulants and speciality nutrients. Headquartered in Atessa, Italy, Valagro serves customers around the world with a strong presence in Europe and North America, as well as a growing footprint in Asia, including China, and LATAM. Valagro has over 700 employees, 13 subsidiaries and 8 production sites around the world, with a portfolio backed by best-in-class biological R&D, production and commercialization capabilities.
This strategic acquisition enables Syngenta Crop Protection to build a world-leading Biologicals business. Valagro has a strong commercial and production standing, as well as an industry-leading technology and research capacity. Valagro's well-established portfolio in biostimulants and specialty nutrients will complement both Syngenta Crop Protection's current range of biostimulants and biocontrols, as well as its future pipeline of biological solutions. Biocontrols and biostimulants, natural solutions for pest, disease control and crop improvement, are increasingly important for farmers worldwide in their efforts for sustainable agricultural production. This acquisition is fully in-line with Syngenta Crop Protection’s strategy to provide growers with additional complementary choices of products and technologies in order to effectively and sustainably care for their crops by managing resistance, enhancing soil health, reducing residues in crops, and addressing consumer demands.
Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta Group stated: “We are looking forward to welcoming the Valagro team to Syngenta Group. This acquisition underlines our growth ambitions in this area and positions us as one of the strongest players in the global biologicals market. The investment also forms part of our $2 billion commitment to help farmers address the effects of climate change and improve agricultural sustainability as part of our Good Growth Plan.”
Giuseppe Natale, CEO Valagro said: “For 40 years our mission at Valagro has been to harness nature in order to help farmers achieve higher yields and grow better quality crops. This agreement will open up new, previously unimaginable growth prospects for the Valagro group worldwide. Now that we are part of a company with the resources and ambition of Syngenta Crop Protection, we have exciting new opportunities for our innovation to better deliver even more options for farmers and to invest even more effectively in the sustainable future of agriculture.”
Jon Parr, President Global Crop Protection at Syngenta noted: “Significant levels of investment in innovations such as Biologicals are necessary in order to deliver a sustainable future and help farmers deliver a food system working in harmony with nature. Syngenta Crop Protection and Valagro have a foundation in science-based innovation and are eager to collaborate, share knowledge and build on each other’s capabilities. By fostering the entrepreneurial spirit and culture of Valagro, powered by our global scale and capability, together we will shape the future of the agricultural Biologicals market.”
The financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.
About Syngenta Group
Syngenta Group is one of the world’s leading agriculture innovation companies, with roots going back more than 250 years. Its 48,000 people across more than 100 countries strive to transform agriculture through breakthrough products and technologies that play a vital role in enabling the food chain to feed the world safely, sustainably and with respect for our planet. Swiss headquartered and Chinese-owned, the Group draws strength from its four business units – Syngenta Crop Protection headquartered in Switzerland, Syngenta Seeds headquartered in the United States, ADAMA headquartered in Israel, and Syngenta Group China – that provide industry-leading ways to serve customers everywhere.
$30 million bio-ag investment to create 107 new jobs see more
Yield Scientific, a subsidiary of GEM Opportunity Zone Fund, today announced plans to establish operations in Hampton County. The company’s more than $30 million investment is projected to create 107 new jobs.
Founded in 2017, Yield Scientific is a hemp growing and processing operation that specializes in clinical-grade product development for the health care industry. Through its brand, Victis CBD, the company offers CBD products developed with high quality standards and advanced science.
Located at Southern Carolina Industrial Campus in Early Branch, Yield Scientific’s new facility will enhance the company’s product development and manufacturing capabilities.
The new operations are expected to be online by the first quarter of 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Yield Scientific team should visit https://www.yieldsci.com.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project. Hampton County was also awarded a $50,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to assist with costs related to this project.
“We are very pleased to join the Hampton County community of corporate citizens. Through Yield Scientific and the Victis CBD brand, we will invest over $30 million and create 107 jobs in a pharmaceutical-grade growing and processing complex within the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus in Early Branch. Our project would not have happened without the support and work of the SouthernCarolina Alliance team, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture and Hampton County.” -GEM Opportunity Zone Fund CEO Zeb Portanova
“We’re thrilled that Yield Scientific has chosen to invest in South Carolina’s growing hemp industry and her people, creating more than 100 good jobs in one of our state’s rural gems.” –Gov. Henry McMaster
“Our approach to creating a business-friendly environment for all types of companies continues to pay off, and Yield Scientific’s investment in Hampton County is a testament to that. I look forward to watching the company thrive here for many years to come.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“Yield Scientific is a wonderful addition to South Carolina’s burgeoning hemp industry. Their greenhouse operations and processing capacity will create skilled agriculture jobs – and in an Opportunity Zone, no less.” -Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers
“We are both proud and grateful that this innovative company has chosen Hampton County as the home for their new operation. Each of the 107 jobs they are creating will affect the future of a family in our region, which is why economic development is so important to the quality of life in a community.” -Hampton County Council Chairman Clay Bishop
“Hampton County welcomes Yield Scientific to the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus. We are thrilled to have a state-of-the-art agribusiness producing food and nutrition products in Early Branch.” -Hampton County Economic Development Commission Chairman Bill Hager
“The visionary leadership of Yield Scientific and the GEM Opportunity Zone Fund will bring job opportunities and investment to our region while supplying the global food network with agricultural products grown through advanced scientific protocol. We believe this kind of innovation is more important than ever to our regional and state economies in the coming years.” -SouthernCarolina Alliance Chairman Marty Sauls