Local agriculture deal to expand company and add jobs

One of the largest agriculture companies in the world is buying the local ag-tech startup, Agrible Inc. for $63 million. (WCCU)

A local investment at University of Illinois’ Research Park aims to keep and bring more jobs in the community.

Nutrien, one of the largest agriculture companies in the world is buying the local ag-tech startup, Agrible Incorporated for $63 million. Paul Miller, chief science officer and one of the co-founders of Agrible said not only does the deal support local farmers, but it will also help the economy in Champaign-Urbana.

It all started on the second floor of this building.

“Opening at this incubator in 2014 within 2 years they outgrew this space and it continued to grow here in Champaign and the Research Park,” director of the Research Park, Laura Frerichs.

That growth caught the attention of Canadian-based fertilizer company Nutrien.

“By partnering with Nutrien Ag Solutions we are bringing our tools to hundreds of thousands of growers across the United States and the world,” Miller said. “We will impact agricultural technology in a massive way right here from Champaign-Urbana.”

Agrible develops software forecasting rainfall, developing nutrient estimates and predictions -- helping farmers watch out for severe weather events and plan their fertilizer applications.

"We built this entire team and technology to be able to serve growers' needs in the predictive analytics space which in a lot of ways we've defined and created,” Miller said.

While the investment will expand the company, it will also help support the growth of Champaign-Urbana.

"This is a big investment in our community in terms of capital coming in and the job growth of high-paying jobs,” Frerichs said. “Every time a successful acquisition of this type happens it pays it forward for future entrepreneurs.”

In less than 5 years, Agrible now has 17,000 customers farming about 11 million acres.

"As we transform the way people are being fed and farms are incorporated technology to make them advanced and be able to feed more people,” Frerichs said.

Considered one of the top 50 companies shaping the future of agriculture in the country.

Agrible said it would not have been possible without its first customers and users located in central Illinois.

"[Nutrien] is committed to keep the jobs here in Champaign and recognize the talent in our community helps them to have a competitive and innovation advantage,” Frerichs said. “This is a company with widespread farmer distribution because of the products that they sell to farmers and other areas.”

Agrible currently has 55 employees. The deal between the startup and Nutrien is expected to close by the end of July.

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