Four international agribusiness leaders will soon take up residence at NC State University. Bayer, BASF, SAS and Novozymes have agreed to collaborate with NC State University researchers at the new Plant Sciences Building, a leading-edge facility at the heart of the university’s N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI), an effort that fosters interdisciplinary, team-based work between academia, industry, government, and growers to solve the most perplexing plant science challenges locally and globally.
The new industry collaboration model brings the brightest minds from multinational companies together with NC State faculty into a space that intentionally intersects science, technology, and the marketplace to foster innovative thinking and collaborative problem-solving. Through N.C. PSI, NC State scientists and staff will seamlessly integrate research and talent from across the university while working shoulder-to-shoulder with private industry biologists, engineers, computer scientists, innovation leaders, analytics specialists, and other experts to cultivate robust thinking and generate solutions-based outcomes where agriculture and society overlap.
“NC State is leveraging its assets from across the university in partnership with world agricultural leaders to drive innovation in the area of plant sciences,” said Dr. Randy Woodson, chancellor of NC State University. “By building on our existing partnerships with Bayer, BASF, SAS and Novozymes we will expedite solutions and maximize our impacts for our stakeholders here in NC and throughout the world.”
Positioned in the heart of NC State’s Centennial Campus, the NC State Plant Sciences Building is a significant factor in attracting multinational partners as well as exceptional faculty and students from around the world.
“The building itself will accelerate workforce development and talent acquisition within the agriculture industry as its innovative design allows us to create an ecosystem where industry can liaise with students to better prepare them for careers,” said Dr. Adrian Percy, executive director of the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative. “It will also serve as a convening point across the agriculture industry to provide a broad spectrum of stakeholders with a way to engage in important conversations in a neutral space.”
Access to cutting-edge tools and equipment, co-working spaces, and teams of interdisciplinary researchers allows both industry and academia to effectively collaborate to address grand challenges facing food, health, and agriculture. The 185,000-square-foot world-class facility is home to:
- Makerspace – a 1,050 square-foot laboratory environment for rapid prototyping of low-cost custom hardware and software solutions for monitoring plant and cropping systems across agricultural scales.
- Think Tank – The data sciences hub that will house top-notch data specialists, bioinformaticists, computational biologists and high-end analytical systems.
- Three university core facilities – Cellular and Molecular Imaging Facility (CMIF), Genomic Sciences Lab (GSL), Molecular Education, Technology, and Research Innovation Center (METRIC). Managed by the University Office of Research and Innovation, these core facilities will bring new equipment and capabilities to support PSI-affiliated projects, as well as the broader research community.
- Four “Blue Box” precision growth chambers – Custom-designed plant growth chambers, donated by long-time NC State corporate partner Syngenta, are equipped with unique capabilities that allow researchers to precisely control the plant growing atmosphere. There are only eight growth chambers in the world constructed with these specifications.
- BSL 2 & 3 Rooftop Greenhouses – Eleven rooftop greenhouses, spanning 10,000 square feet, will provide fully conditioned, under-glass growth environments in a mix of BL2-P and BL3-P greenhouses. Connecting to the BL3-P greenhouse, the BSL3 lab will allow N.C. PSI researchers to conduct unique experiments on select plant infectious agents and organisms.
- Demo lab – Fully functional lab will serve as a display area for the general public to see firsthand some of the N.C. PSI research taking place inside the building.
- Open office and collaborative spaces developed as “neighborhoods” with high transparency and connectivity between lab and office.
- Seminar and event space for continued learning and idea exchange.
Bayer, BASF, SAS and Novozymes have each committed to a one-year lease. N.C. PSI is open to welcoming additional, well-aligned partners with complementary skill sets who understand the significant impacts this type of collaborative work has on farms and communities. The building was dedicated on April 12 and teams will start to move in the week of April 25.
This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.