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Dow Agro plans 'major' expansion announcement

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard are expected to be on hand for what officials are caling a "major life sciences expansion" announcement Thursday morning at Dow AgroSciences headquarters.

The company, a subsidiary of Midland, Mich.-based giant Dow Chemical Co., declined to share details about its plans in advance of the press conference, but Dow AgroSciences spokeswoman Kenda Resler Friend said the event is “more significant than what we announced last summer.”

Last July, the company signed a 15-year lease for a newly constructed 80,000-square-foot research and development building adjacent to its headquarters in the northwestern corner of Indianapolis. At the time, Dow AgroSciences pledged to hire dozens of additional researchers to staff the new facility. Dow Agro employs about 1,200 locally.

The Indianapolis operation is poised for significant growth, and has been touting its plans to double research and development investment by 2012. In a Feb. 10 speech to the Goldman Sachs Agricultural Biotech Forum in New York, Dow AgroSciences CEO Antonio Galindez said Dow AgroSciences anticipates launching five new agrochemical products by 2012. The products will generate more than $800 million in new sales, he said.

For example, Sulfoxaflor, a new insecticide, has a projected 2012 launch and will be the first biotechnology product in a $2 billion market. This year, Dow AgroSciences will launch SmartStax, the world’s first nine-gene seed trait combination for corn growers. The company says it can increase crop yields by up to 10 percent by protecting them against herbicides and bugs.

“We are ramping up or planning to launch five new products,” Galindez told the New York audience. “When you consider it takes more than $180 million and nine to 10 years to bring a new molecule to market, you can see our R&D machine is really rolling.”

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