Nebraska Making Advances in Biotechnology
20 Jun 2012
Bringing Nebraska’s academic and research institutions together with the business community is a perfect example of the kind of partnership that exists in our state. We need an effective way to take the innovation and discoveries being developed today and move them from a lab into the marketplace.
Strong relationships are essential and it is wonderful that we have a group encouraging that kind of collaboration. BioNebraska includes some of our state’s most dynamic companies — businesses that are driving innovation, research and new investments in our state.
Nebraska is in the enviable position of having a healthier and more stable economy than most states. We continue to announce new projects and new expansions, particularly among the science-based industries. We are making progress in areas such as the renewable fuels sector, crop research and production, animal health, food processing, medical research, and pharmaceutical development and production. Bioscience businesses are at the forefront of technological innovation.
I recently had the honor of presenting the 2012 Governor’s Bioscience Award to GeneSeek, a Neogen Company. This award is presented in honor of a partnership that brought leaders in research and academia together with the business community for a project that has been remarkably successful in advancing scientific discoveries and creating jobs here in Nebraska.
GeneSeek was founded in 1998 by Lincoln entrepreneur Abraham Oommen and a University of Nebraska Lincoln faculty member, Daniel Pomp, to provide genetic testing, screening and gene discovery and characterization services for the swine and dairy industries. They began in a business incubator at Nebraska Technology Park with one part time intern. Their breakthrough came when the USDA used GeneSeek to verify the origin of the first animal in the United States diagnosed with BSE, also known as mad cow disease.
In April 2010 they were acquired by Neogen Corporation headquartered in Lansing, Mich. Neogen is a leading international firm involved in support of production agriculture, food safety and the life sciences with sales of $172 million last year. Neogen is the largest licensee of UNL food safety technologies. Neogen has added space, employees and significant investment since the acquisition.
GeneSeek offers skilled, desirable jobs to their 45 employees, 24 percent have PhD or Master’s degrees and 91 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree. They have made profound contributions to the biosciences and to our state.
Recently, I attended the grand opening of Novozymes in Blair. Novozymes is based in Denmark and operates in 130 countries worldwide. The Blair plant represents a $200 million investment in the bio-refinery campus where they make enzymes, chemical compounds that are used to make ethanol. They are the world leader in bio innovation and the largest supplier of enzymes to the ethanol industry in the United States. Novozymes is an important part of Nebraska’s growing biotechnology industry, and I am thrilled to welcome them to our state.
In addition to having the raw materials essential for a strong ethanol and renewable fuels industry, Nebraska has strong partnerships between our academic research institutions, producers and commodity groups. This collaboration has helped this industry grow and I am excited about the possibilities that exist in the future.
Dave Heineman of Fremont is governor of Nebraska. He can be reached at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln NE 68509-4848, 402-471-2244, fax: 402-471-6031 or e-mail at his Web site, www.governor.nebraska.gov.