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If global nutrition firm picks RTP for plant, NCSU helps plant the seeds

Steven Lommel

Jul, 28 2017, 7:57 AM

Business development is part of the "crops" being developed by researchers at N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, too. Proof?

Premex, a global animal and human nutrition firm, just opened a new office in RTP and its top exec says a manufacturing plant could follow.

NCSU's team is helping pave the way.

"Premex has partnered with NC State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). We've been working on ways to raise healthier poultry by enhancing the animal’s natural antibiotics through nutrition. This partnership has been one of the key reasons we established Premex Innovation Labs in the Triangle," Premex CEO Alejandro Mesa tells WRAL TechWire.

And Dr. Steve Lommel, Associate Dean for Research for NCSU'S CALS explains why the partnership is important to the university as well as the state.

"Roughly one third of the NC economy is based on agriculture, and two thirds of the ag sector comes from food animal production," he explains.

"As one of two land grant institutions in the state, livestock management is an important part of our research, training and extension portfolio.

"In fact, NC State has one of only six poultry science departments in the US and the most advanced feed mill ​on the East Coast. With these resources and faculty in a number of departments and colleges who are world class animal nutritionists, it was logical for Premex to partner with us to improve North Carolina's animal food industries."

Lommel, as did Mesa, points out that the partners are "working on ways to raise healthier poultry by enhancing the animal's natural antibiotics through nutrition."

But Lommel also notes that Premex brought more to the table, so to speak.

"[T]he company approached us with a goal to build a true partnership, focused on a win/win for both partners," he says.

Premex has been transparent about sharing their research and business goals, and has been responsive to us when we made requests of them in return.

"For example, when we asked their team to provide a lecture for an event, their president flew in from Colombia to give the lecture. They have worked with us and provided support for research and one of our graduates was their first local hire. Their global structure and influence increases our global reach and the diversity in our college."

Premex has a global footprint stretching across nearly 30 countries from its headquarters in Colombia. And its mission fits with the NCSU group: Finding ways to feed the world.

"In a time when we have to prepare to feed a growing population, estimated to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, Premex is focused on the number of plates impacted. In other words, improving animal nutrition and therefore increasing the servings of animal based protein in a way that protects meat safety and quality," Lommel says when asked what makes Premex a unique company.

"They also have a strong commitment to continuing education for their staff. For example, one of their Colombia-based employees is taking classes and working on campus as a visiting scholar this summer in a poultry science research lab."

Lommel, who has taught nine years at NCSU and has held a variety of roles including helping found a startup (Nanovector) and serving as interim president at the David Murdock Research Institute in Kannapolis, says NCSU benefits from its work with Premex on multiple fronts.

"Premex has sponsored research projects, provided small gifts to support research programs and hired a recent graduate, with a stated goal to hire more as they expand operations," he says.

Sounds like a fruitful relationship.





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