Alltech, UK Forge Master Alliance For Science, Economic Development

The University of Kentucky and Alltech have a long and deep collaboration on a range of issues in the areas of human and animal health and nutrition.

But as the needs of industry change rapidly and grow more diverse, the two institutions are seeking ways to think more strategically about their partnership to forge deeper ties and streamline collaborations on a host of significant research projects that will also grow Kentucky's economy.

That's the idea behind today's signing of a "Master Alliance Agreement" between UK and Alltech, the Nicholasville, Ky.-based company that is one of the world's leading animal health and nutrition enterprises.

Alltech officials estimate that the new Master Agreement will help generate annual funding of research activities of $2.5 million within the next year, growing to more than $5 million annually by the end of the third year of the strengthened partnership. In addition, the alliance also is expected to help UK enhance graduate training and support for post-doctoral fellowships.

"Our world is rapidly changing, confronting us with a host of issues, from population growth to food security to environmental sustainability," said Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech's founder and president. "Such dynamic challenges require progressive industry to partner with universities that are focused on finding long-term answers to our most pressing questions. Today's agreement provides us with the framework to work openly and in collaboration on those challenges.This alliance helps advance a common goal shared by Alltech and the University of Kentucky -- advancing science while stimulating economic growth in the Commonwealth."

"Alltech, led by Pearse Lyons, has long been a global leader in health and nutrition -- a key area in questions regarding food supply and security," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "UK is uniquely positioned as a flagship and land-grant institution -- with the full complement of agricultural, scientific and health research enterprises on one campus -- to lead in this critical area as well. This agreement helps synergize and focus our work together."

Specifically, the Master Alliance Agreement, signed by Lyons and Capilouto during a ceremony on UK's campus this morning, contemplates three areas of collaboration:

  • Proposals jointly sponsored and conducted by Alltech and UK scientists that will lead to research grants in a number of health and nutrition areas such as Alzheimer's disease and diabetes;
  • Collaborative contracts for targeted research and development;  and
  • Student sponsorships targeted to support research focusing on Alltech products.

The agreement seeks to streamline how such work will take place between Alltech scientists and UK scientists and students. Several colleges at UK -- including the colleges of Agriculture, Pharmacy and Medicine -- will be involved in the collaboration. Lyons said the Master Agreement will help strengthen collaborations between UK and Alltech in areas such as agriculture, medical and basic biological sciences.

As the preamble of the Master Agreement says, the two organizations wish to engage in mutual “walk the hallways” openness between them.  To that end, the advantage of a master agreement is that it eliminates the need to negotiate terms and conditions for each sponsored agreement. For example, private industry strives to protect its intellectual property and trade secrets. At the same time, public universities are committed to free and open communication of research results in publications and other avenues.  So, the Master Alliance Agreement has been developed to identify issues -- such as patent and publication rights -- and lay out a framework for dealing with them while preserving the interests of all parties.

"This Master Agreement, by setting forth the conditions that guide our collaborations, will help expedite and deepen our work together," Lyons and Capilouto said. "That's critical as our two enterprises are working on issues that have global impacts and significance for all of us."

UK and Alltech have had a long relationship. In 2008, UK and Alltech formed The Margin of Excellence Program to reward graduate students in the study of science while promoting technology and development in the state. A $40,000 fellowship -- for up to five years -- was awarded to help a graduate student pursuing doctoral studies. Alltech also has long been involved with UK on the Alltech-UK Nutrition Research Alliance at Coldstream.

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