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Glimpse of the Future – Alltech 29th Symposium

One of the most inspiring events in the animal nutrition industry, Alltech 29th symposium in Lexington, Kentucky this week, accommodating as many as 2,400 people from 72 countries.

Dr Pearse Lyons, president and the founder of Alltech, who’s entrepreneurial spirit and investment of US$10,000 has led to the company’s standing today, as a leading player in the international animal health and nutrition industry. Dr Lyons expressed his passion in the business and belief that there are plenty of opportunities in the world, if and when there is a curiosity. His company is approaching US$1 billion in sales, and is on target to achieve US$4 billion by 2016. The very motivated and organised staff across the continents are the driving power behind his ambition.

This year’s theme is GLIMPSE of the future – the next 7 years towards 2020. Behind the word ‘Glimpse’ Alltech implies main aspects: G for government, L for loss in food and ingredient supply chain, I for infrastructure, M for Markets, P for politics & policies, S for science & innovation, and E for environment.

Dr Lyons included a personal message to all the current and future leaders in the crowd. He challenged them to find their passion and to use that to lead and to inspire others. He explained that a leader needs to make an emotional connection with people and understand them in order to be a success.

“A leader recognises that you must take your best people and put them where the opportunities are. That’s the skill of a leader.”

Farming the sea to produce 60% of our protein for the future was one opportunity highlighted. The current system is not sustainable. Fish need to eat algae. The shortage of fish oil, containing DHA, is limiting the growth of the industry. Feed fish algae and they will produce fish oil, high in DHA, all in a sustainable manner. Dr Lyons reminisced about the algae plant in Winchester, Kentucky and how, for 30 years, it was on his mind until he finally bought it and made his dream a reality. Now his dream is to see plants around the world.

Town Branch river
Another dream that Alltech shares with many Lexingtonians, is to bring the Town Branch river back from obscurity, to the surface where its greatness can be rediscovered. Dr Lyons let the audience in on an interesting historical coincidence. In 1503 Robert Dunne was the third name on the list of founders of the Coopers Guild in Dublin, Ireland. Robert Dunne was also the name of Dr Lyons’ uncle, the last cooper in Ireland and a man dedicated to his craft. Taking those barrels, traditionally made by his ancestors and reusing them to produce Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale has become Dr Lyons’ way of honouring the passion and dedication of these craftsmen. The future for this dream is an all new brewery on the Town Branch river.

A common theme throughout all of the opening presentations, was creating growth and discovering greatness. Growing business, growing leaders, allowing people to live up to their potential and creating the space for them to grow and flourish - a very positive message that can be applied immediately to ensure the success of the industry for the next seven years. He ended with a phase that has become somewhat of a personal motto for Dr Lyons:

“Don’t get it right, get it going.”

Dr Eugenia Wang awarded Alltech Medal of Excellence
The 2013 Alltech Medal of Excellence winner Dr. Eugenia Wang was announced by Dr Lyons for her pioneering work in using high-throughput technologies to explore the molecular signatures of Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias and heart disease. Dr Wang, a Chinese-born researcher from the University of Louisville focuses her research on the role of microRNAs as molecular “switches” in aging and age-dependent diseases. Her research has led to diagnostic breakthroughs in challenging age-related diseases.

In her presentation, Dr. Wang painted a picture of a world in the near future where diagnostic tests will enable family physicians to simply take a drop of blood from a patient’s finger and determine if they are progressing towards, or predisposed to, a potentially fatal disease. Dr. Wang explained that age is the time bomb for disease onset, meaning that as you get older it’s harder to remain disease free. Her solution to this is to modify gene expression via diet and behaviour so as to reduce the effects of age, as well as to provide cheap and efficient screening for genetic vulnerability to diseases like cancer and dementia.

Kaori Nishide

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