Monsanto picks N.C. Research Campus for new lab

Posted January 28, 2010 8:16 a.m. EST

— The North Carolina Research Campus is landing crop giant Monsanto (NYSE: MON) as a tenant for the $1.5 billion project that is being built by billionaire David Murdock.

The company has signed a long-term lease for research facilities at the campus.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

In an announcement Thursday, the company and Murdock said the Monsanto lab will focus on "taste and nutritional composition of vegetables, and enhanced nutrition in food-focused row crops such as soybeans."

“I commend David for his vision in pulling together such diverse institutions that are leaders in their fields” said Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto, in a statement.

“The research center holds great promise and the potential to make a significant contribution to human health, nutrition and agriculture. The synergy that exists at a campus like this could lead to truly innovative research and products with long-term benefits for consumers.”

“Monsanto’s presence on the NCRC constitutes yet another critical piece in ensuring the success of the campus,” Murdock said in a statement. “I am proud to have a company with the outstanding reputation of Monsanto, a leader in the field of agricultural biotechnology, as our newest partner. I look forward to great collaboration and scientific breakthroughs between Monsanto and our other academic and industry partners on the campus.”

Last year, Monsanto struck a five-year development agreement with Dole Food, which Murdock owns.

On Wednesday, NCRC dropped several hints about its future new client in announcing a press conference at the campus on Thursday.

“It’s a company with vast numbers of employees,” a spokesperson for the NCRC said. “This is a company that is coming to do new research.

According to the Salisbury Post, the company will create initially between 20 and 25 jobs.

However, the new tenant eventually could employ hundreds of people, Phyllis Beaver, marketing director for Castle & Cooke, which is developing the campus, told the newspaper.

"This is a great step forward," Beaver said. "They have the potential to create to many jobs."

According to Beaver, the proteomics lab at NCRC helped draw the company.

In a media advisory, the new tenant was described as being a “Fortune 100 company.”

“The NC Research Campus takes a giant step forward with the addition of a significant new tenant, a global company that will speed the development of breakthrough science at the Kannapolis campus,” the advisory said.

The announcement will also include a tour of the proteomics lab at the main building.

UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State already have buildings at the campus. Duke University is a partner in the NCRC as well as are several other state universities.

Private sector partners include Labcorp and Red Hat.

However, the NCRC lost last year a commitment from Pharmaceutical Product Development to establish a clinical research facility in Kannapolis.