The development of University Research Park has paid off in a big way for the city, as the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) on Friday opened its new enzyme lab on Drew Avenue. City officials expect that the labor will provide at least 20 jobs and open the door to further opportunities between the city, university and the food giant.
The lab’s scientists will work with ADM’s other R&D facilities around the globe to develop enzyme products to serve a variety of markets, and will partner with China-based Qingdao Vland Biotech Group Co., Ltd., to develop and commercialize feed enzymes to improve animal health and nutrition.
ADM is one of the world’s largest processors and food ingredient manufacturers. They work with farmers to connect the food they grow to consumers around the world. They were founded in Minneapolis back in 1902 and today are one of the oldest companies on the New York Stock Exchange.
ADM CEO and Chairman Juan Luciano was on hand at the ceremony on Friday. “For 115 years, we have been feeding the world,” he said. “We have been equally (feeding) humanity. We have taken food from where there is more than is needed, like the US for instance, and we move to places like China which has 22 percent of the world’s population and six percent of the water.”
He said, “We’re very excited to have this lab here.” He noted that California is the world center for biotech companies and joked that, even though this is a $70 billion company, “we are a bit of startup” as they expand into research on biotechnology.
Earlier this year, ADM and Vland signed a joint development agreement under which the companies will share enzyme-producing strains as a basis for the development of food enzymes. Products developed under the agreement will be commercialized by both companies.
Vikram Luthar, ADM President of Health & Wellness, noted that ADM is looking to continue to expand its health and wellness product portfolio, moving closer to the consumer: “The new enzyme lab will be an important contribution to the growth of that platform.
“This facility marks the first major milestone in our new alliance,” he said.
“Working with ADM will help us accelerate the commercialization of enzyme products globally,” said Vland CEO Gang Chen. “We see this as the beginning of a productive collaboration, and look forward to working closely with some of the best enzyme scientists in the world at the new ADM Davis lab.”
“We are pleased to welcome ADM and their new enzyme lab to the City of Davis,” said Mayor Robb Davis.
Mayor Davis noted his work in Africa that focused on food and the lack thereof. He said his first job was working with “children that were dying in my arms due to lack of food. It made me think deeply about food and food policy.”
More broadly, he noted, “We all collectively create a chain from basic research to the fields and plates… What happens here can’t be translated directly to a program to serve people’s nutritional needs. But working together with all our individual gifts, we have the capacity to complete that chain so the nutrition status of individuals on the planet is improved.”
Mayor Davis noted that what is emerging in and around Davis in terms of economic development illustrates “cluster theory.”
He joked that we ought to rename Drew Ave as “Enzyme Way.
“Some people set out to develop a cluster,” he said. “Our cluster is coming to us because we know, you know that our comparative advantage is in this basic research.”
He noted that, with UC Davis, there is a world class university that will help serve as ADM’s workers at this facility. He said that what will benefit the city and ADM is that having this cluster “enables you to attract the best talent.”
Proximity to UC Davis was a huge factor in the decision to locate here.
Vikram Luthar stated, “We chose to build the facility here in the Central Valley in no small part because of UC Davis’ tremendous expertise and resources.
“This will be ADM’s first ever basic research laboratory in California,” he said.
ADM Chief Technology Officer Todd Werpy in a release stated that “our new lab will benefit from its location near the University of California, Davis, which provides access to world-leading expertise and resources in the areas of food science and nutrition as well as animal health and agriculture.
“ADM has collaborated with UC Davis in the past, and we look forward to an even closer relationship now. We’re also very appreciative of the City of Davis, which has been tremendously supportive and helpful through this entire process.”
In ADM’s release, Mayor Davis is quoted stating, “ADM had many choices in where to open their new lab, and we are gratified that they recognized the talent and resources that come hand in hand with being a part of the Davis community. ADM’s interest in reducing food insecurity is one we share, given the challenges in this regard in our own region. We’re excited about the opportunities they’re creating in Davis, and look forward to working together in the years to come.”
—David M. Greenwald