Front Range scores another forward-looking agricultural-tech firm
July 31st, 2017
Offered by The Denver Post
Inocucor becomes the latest agri-tech company to establish a major presence in the state’s growing agricultural economy.
By ERIN DOUGLAS | The Denver Post
With another international agri-tech company on its way to Denver, the Front Range appears to be fast-approaching a global reputation as a next-generation agricultural hub.
Inocucor, a Canadian company that specializes in natural biological products for agriculture, this winter will establish its U.S. headquarters just off of Interstate 25 near Centennial Airport.
President and CEO Don Marvin, a Denver area resident, describes Inocucor’s products as a sort of probiotic for plants – they enhance plant health and yields, and mainly target produce such as strawberries, corn and tomatoes. While the products do not replace the use of pesticides and synthetic chemicals, Marvin said Inocucor products can reduce their use.
Inocucor received a $1.3 million performance-based job growth tax credit from the state’s economic development commission, but Marvin said the credit was not a deciding factor for picking Denver as their U.S. entry point. Other states offered similar credits but Colorado had strategic advantages, including a highly educated ag workforce — Marvin expects to hire 60 employees.
“I think Denver won out because we had pre-existing relationships with other agricultural businesses here,” he said, also citing the central location relative to the rest of the nation. “And, Colorado State University is a major agricultural school, so that was important to us as well for the excellent sourcing. We’ll be rapidly recruiting as we step up our operations.” CSU has a long history as an agricultural school and is major force in the state’s ag economy, old and new, most recently becoming a key partner in the $1.1 billion overhaul of the National Western Center in Denver.
Colorado, with healthy soil and a large water supply, makes it an ideal place to spur a modern agricultural economy, Marvin said. And, the economic data confirms this, according to one CSU professor who researches the field.
“We’re not as big as California or Texas, but dollar-for-dollar GDP we have more agriculture research going on here as a share of the economy,” said Gregory Graff, a CSU professor in the department of agricultural and resource economics. “What we’re seeing is that especially in the high-tech side of agriculture, companies are tending to cluster into similar locations to benefit from the synergies of workforce.”
Graff said he’s seen major companies locate headquarters or large facilities along the Front Range – namely Limagrain, in Fort Collins; Syngenta in northern Colorado and Boulder; and Agrium in Loveland.
“I really think we’re one of the metro regions in the running for being a hub of innovation in this industry, globally,” Graff said about the future of Colorado’s agriculture in the next 20 years.
He said companies like to locate where it’s easy to attract the talent they need – no easy task considering the types of employees companies like Inocucor want need at least a bachelor’s degree if not a masters or Ph.D. in plant science or microbiology.
Marvin said Inocucor picked Centennial because it’s a good city for employees to raise a family, and convenient for corporate clients flying in for meetings.
Inocucor’s 30,000-square-foot facility 7304 S. Joliet St. will mainly be used as the company’s commercial office and a fermentation facility, while the Montreal headquarters will be more focused on innovation and development. The company recently completed a $29 million Series B financing round. Inocucor’s Series A round generated $6 million.