Very End Alltech president, Mark Lyons, presenting his mother, Deirdre, with the Medal of Excellence at the One conference. JUNE 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com The passing of the torch at Alltech A fitting tribute was paid to Dr Pearse Lyons at the opening session of the One 18 Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington, Kentucky, US, last month. Pearse’s son, Mark, who has taken on the role of president of Alltech, presented his mother Deirdre with the Medal of Excellence, and the Alltech humanitarian award. A previous recipient of the Medal of Excellence was former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, while Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak received the humanitarian award last year. It was a worthy tribute to a man who saw opportunities to bring new technology and innovative thinking to the world. A conference of ideas The Alltech One 18 conference was the brainchild of Dr Pearse Lyons some 35 years ago. Lyons arrived in the US in 1977, and built a billion-dollar business by thinking outside the box. The audience of 3,500 people heard his son Mark making a comparison between Leonardo da Vinci and his father. Both men, according to Lyons, had big ideas and changed history: “Like Einstein, Edison and the Wright brothers, Pearse Lyons had the ability to see the world in a di erent way.” Accelerating business ideas The conference focus, however, was very much on young Mark Lyons. Having spent six years developing the Alltech business in China, Mark moved back to Lexington after the passing of his father, to head up the company. Mark has that same charismatic nature as his father, coupled with an abundance of passion and energy for the business. The new Alltech president is pushing the idea of making Kentucky a national hub for agricultural technology, making it a place where people can grow their businesses, often in partnership with Alltech. The Pearse Lyons-created Accelerator programme is dedicated to establishing a launchpad for ag-tech startup companies, both internal and external to Alltech, by providing opportunities to develop fledgling ideas in agriculture. The programme continues to attract top start-ups, with six of last year’s companies featuring in the Global Top 100 agtech rankings. This idea, again, was driven by the late Pearse Lyons, o ering companies finance and expertise to develop their businesses. Opening the mind to new technologies The One 18 conference o ered delegates the opportunity to engage with the movers and shakers in world agriculture. From wellness in the workplace to what drives consumer preferences and why it matters, the conference opens minds to new technology, innovative thinking and global food trends and food security. A new idea hatched by Accelerator One of the Accelerator-supported companies, EggXYT, is bringing gene editing to poultry farms to save chicks and resources. EggXYT is tackling this issue through a geneediting solution that allows chicken farms to detect the sex of an egg pre-incubation, weeks before this exercise can be achieved by existing technologies. The start-up company firstly implants an identifier into the hens, which manifests itself only in the male eggs the hen lays. So this new technology can then identify which eggs are male and female, and allows the factories to focus on incubating the female eggs. Essentially, this technology allows you to count your chickens before they hatch and allows processors to save billions in unnecessary costs annually. Still pending FDA approval, the company intends targeting the big poultry markets, including China, India and the US. In 2017, investment in agri-tech start-ups has surged and it was the second-fastest-growing sub-sector in tech, according to a recent report. Meanwhile, a study by McKinsey & Company shows that agriculture is currently the least digitised industry sector in the world. 70