Bluegrass Ag Tech Development Corp. focuses on making Kentucky ag tech capital of United States
Agriculture-focused company combines agriculture, technology
LEXINGTON (June 2, 2022) - Building upon Kentucky's signature agriculture, food, and beverage industries, a new entity has been formed to cultivate an innovation ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startups in the agri-food sector. The Bluegrass Ag Tech Development Corp.'s board of directors include representatives of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, City of Lexington, University of Kentucky, and Alltech.
“When we think of software development, we think of Silicon Valley. When we think of advancements in healthcare, we think of Boston,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “We believe that Kentucky can step up to the challenges facing our agriculture communities and become the agriculture hub of technology and innovation in the United States.”
Commissioner Quarles cited Kentucky’s world dominance in the horse industry, expanding bourbon production, genetic progress in poultry, and sustainability advancements in no-till farming as selling points for attracting agribusinesses. Kentucky offers traditional business incentives from the state, along with agriculture resources such as funding, networking, and marketing support for startups.
Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton sees an opportunity to make the Lexington and Fayette County area a thriving Ag Tech center. Mayor Gorton announced her proposed budget includes $1 million to kickstart the Bluegrass Ag Tech Development Corporation.
“Advancement of ag-tech as an economic development initiative has been a key focus of my first term,” Mayor Gorton said. “Good, high-paying jobs will grow out of this public private partnership.”
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Dean Nancy Cox said this effort is a complement to the college’s education, research, and outreach missions.
“A vibrant ag tech hub will provide more opportunities to develop new research collaborations and innovations, while also providing more opportunities for UK graduates to stay in Kentucky and work in these new agriculture-based companies,” Dean Cox said. “With a presence in all 120 Kentucky counties, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service provides education and technical assistance that helps producers across the state benefit from new ag tech innovation.”
Alltech is one of the world’s top five animal health and nutrition companies, headquartered in Central Kentucky since 1980. Alltech’s leadership sees myriad opportunities for Kentucky to grow as a global leader in agrifood innovation.
“In 2017, my father Dr. Pearse Lyons penned an op-ed for The Lexington Herald-Leader, challenging our region to harness the energy of its traditions and expertise within agriculture, food, and beverage,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “For the past few years, we have been working behind the scenes in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, City of Lexington, University of Kentucky, and others to make that vision a reality. With the formation of the Bluegrass Ag Tech Development Corporation, we are taking a significant step forward in creating an ecosystem for agri
-food innovation that builds upon Kentucky’s best attributes.”
As a next step, the board will begin to search for an executive director.