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DURHAM — The N.C. Biotechnology Center has teamed up with the Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture to ramp up industry recruitment efforts with the launch of an economic development platform.

The new agricultural biotechnology platform, called AgBiosphere, is intended to recruit companies to North Carolina through education on North Carolina’s assets in addition to establishing a streamlined consulting process, according to the Biotechnology Center.

“Now is our opportunity in agriculture and life sciences. I think that no other state in the nation has the capacity to grow due to the tremendous assets that we have in the state,” said Richard Linton, dean of the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We represent the number one economic sector in the state and we plan to grow it to $100 billion with over 800,000 jobs by the year 2020.”

The Biotech Center launched the platform last week at its headquarters in Research Triangle Park.

“Because of our place in research and development … because of the world’s need for food, the world’s need for energy, North Carolina is uniquely sitting at a place of critical importance in the agricultural revolution,” said Department of Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker.

And North Carolina is competing with other regions of the country in recruiting agricultural biotechnology companies, said Doug Edgeton, president and CEO of the Biotech Center.

“California cows have their own marketing campaign,” he said.

N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said North Carolina has approximately 600 agricultural science companies and that “we’ve gone from sustenance farms to feeding over 150 people per farmer.”

According to the Agriculture Department, North Carolina’s agriculture industry accounts for more than 17 percent of the state’s income and employs 16 percent of the workforce.

“We have a real opportunity to be the global leader,” Troxler said.

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