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Global ag company Advanta Seeds is making roots at Texas A&M's Research Park

THE EAGLE | Bryan, TX 

A global agricultural company officially opened its doors Thursday at Texas A&M's Research Park -- bringing with it opportunities for students and jobs to the Brazos Valley.

The Advanta CS Biotechnology Center's new research and development facility is designed to focus on increasing capabilities for Advanta Seeds' key crops of corn, sunflower, sorghum, canola and vegetables. The company -- which breeds crops in 150 countries -- once performed this research in labs in Argentina and India, but recently closed those facilities to consolidate the company's global research at the Texas A&M facility.

"We were looking for new talents, and needed to invest somewhere, too," said Advanta Global Research and Development Director Alberto Leon.

Four scientists from Argentina and India were retained and moved to Bryan-College Station to continue their work with Advanta, while 18 other employees were hired a little more than a year ago. Advanta's lab operated in an AgriLife building on campus while a private investor purchased land in Research Park for the permanent facility, which is leased to Advanta. Portions of the lab began moving into the new building in mid-2017, and now the center is 97 percent complete and fully operational. Research Valley Partnership worked in collaboration with Texas A&M and AgriLife on the project.

"Adding Advanta Seeds to our corporate community continues to diversify our market and helps us compete globally," Matt Prochaska, president and
CEO of the Research Valley Partnership, said in a statement.

Leon said professors and students will be able to learn from the laboratory, and summer internships at the lab will be offered to students. One doctoral candidate studying statistics at Texas A&M is already working with Advanta Seeds.

At the ribbon cutting-ceremony on Thursday evening, a spokeswoman from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office addressed Advanta executives.
"This is huge, not only for College Station and Texas A&M, but for the state of Texas," said Betty Russo. "This is huge... to have such a global company in our state is wonderful."

According to Leon, the company made the decision to move its research center to the United States, as the U.S. has a level of internet security and law enforcement that executives found favorable, as well as a large talent pool of scientists. Campuses in California and Kansas were considered, but the company ultimately chose Texas A&M -- in part because of the climate, which will make it easier to grow more than one generation a year of crops, Leon said.

"[Texas A&M and Agrilife have] done a great job helping and supporting us," said Leon, who also touted the talent pool at the university.