January 2020 Newsletter

Our January issue welcomes new Bio Nebraska members and gives the latest news on industry growth and research updates.


January 2020  |   Member Newsletter



Bio Nebraska Is Racing Ahead into 2020

Where did January go? It is hard to believe February is just about here. Bio Nebraska was busy this month hosting events and promoting a bio ecosystem in the state. We started by welcoming state senators back to Lincoln with a social hour, partnered with ICAN to host an Emotional Intelligence Workshop for Nebraska Women in STEM and will finish the month with a true Bio & Beers at Infusion Brewery.

In addition, Bio Nebraska testified in support of LB 879, which would sunset the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit and transfer those funds to the Business Innovation Act.

January was also a month of additions to Bio Nebraska’s membership. I would like to welcome BD, CellGro Technologies, Control Management, DNA Genetics, Metropolitan Community College,Specialized Engineering Solutions and Verve Biotech to the fold. Having a diverse membership makes Bio Nebraska a stronger and more effective association and these new members continue to build on that diversity.

January brings change, too. We are looking at ways to more effectively and efficiently provide you with news and information surrounding our industry. As such, our newsletter will now publish every other month and we will soon provide you more frequent emails that will include timely member news. So, our next newsletter will be in March. 

What can we expect in February? Bio Nebraska will be tracking key bills as they make their way through the Unicameral. This is a short legislative session, so things will move quickly. We will also be working on a project that will shape Bio Nebraska for the years to come. Stay tuned.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, thoughts, etc. This is your association and I want to make sure Bio Nebraska is doing all it can to help you.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you at Bio & Beers on January 30.

Best Regards,

Rob Owen
Executive Director
Bio Nebraska



f8cf73331d6948b1c88a96ac7950ba81Bio & Beers (Omaha)

January 30, 2020
Omaha, Nebraska


08b41679667886c948d19bf342281566Women In STEM Breakfast at HUDL
March 24, 2020
Lincoln, Nebraska



af30ee7cdf2674499a5213d87490f3372020 Partnering for Growth | Iowa BIO

March 10-11, 2020
Ankeny, Iowa






Bio Nebrask5e51d39c594dd48762117727793dc98ca Annual Meeting 

April 28, 2020
Omaha, Nebraska




e28c0afd0caeb1f4ab9d1b2d1c66b11aLife Sciences on the Links (Iron Horse Golf Course) 

May 2020
Ashland, Nebraska 


c5353fe358fe87da21225ee9489e91faBIO International Convention

June 8-11, 2020
San Diego, California 







Bio Nebraska Companies Invited to Look at Apprenticeship Program

In the spotlight this month is Bio Nebraska member Nebraska Department of Economic Development and its international business manager, Cobus Block, discussing DED’s interest in the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training.

Q.    Cobus, what is your role as DED’s international business manager?

A.    I oversee our international engagement. Broadly speaking, those efforts include export promotion, foreign direct-investment attraction and general promotion of the state overseas.

Q.    What is the ICATT program and how can it help technology companies?

A.    The Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training is an apprenticeship program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. ICATT specializes in high-end technical training and is certified to the standards of the German Dual Education System. ICATT was established by the German American Chamber of Commerce in the Midwest. It provides access here to training that is used by German companies. ICATT has enrolled over 70 companies. Less than half are German firms operating here.

Q.    What Nebraska companies use ICATT?

A.    Last year, ICATT started a mechatronics program with Metro Community College, the U.S. DOL, Nebraska DOL, CLAAS of America and Graepel North America. It is especially useful for companies starting an apprenticeship program because it customizes plans that coordinate with community college classroom training. ICATT also administers testing and provides instruction for onsite trainers. We are looking to expand the program in Nebraska.

Q.    How do you see this program fitting the life sciences sector?

A.    Most industries across the state need to find a high-quality workforce. This option can help fill that gap. To date, ICATTS has been focused on manufacturing, but the German Dual Education System covers 326 distinct career paths, including biosciences. ICATT is exploring developing a biotech program in the Midwest. If Nebraska companies are interested, that could be an option here.

Q.    What opportunities will this create in our industry?

A.    What we have heard from companies across the state is that they are in desperate need of technicians. ICATT helps companies train a good employee who will stay at the company for a long time.

Q.    As you review the life science growth prospects for our state, what are the biggest international opportunities that you see coming?

A.    There are exciting developments in industrial biotech. We have seen a lot of interest from European and Asian companies in sourcing low-cost ethanol co-products for their production systems. Since Nebraska is the second-largest producer of ethanol, that opens interesting opportunities. 

Q.    What are the greatest threats to our continued growth and economic diversification?

A.    I think one of the greatest threats to continued growth is a lack of visibility in attracting outside investment to our state. We are competing with countries, states and regions with more name recognition than Nebraska, so we must make sure companies are aware of opportunities here.

Q.    How can Bio Nebraska members help DED in its mission? 

A.    DED always welcomes help telling the Nebraska story. About living here, starting a business here, growing a business here, and why it is the good life that provides great opportunities. Additionally, since we see bioscience as a key growth area, we would love help identifying companies that might be a good fit for our state. (To reach Cobus with suggestions or show interest in ICATT, email him at cobus.block@nebraska.gov or contact DED at (402) 471-3111.)




Improve leadership effectiveness by understanding emotional and social functioning.

Emotional Growth the Focus in Bio Nebraska Workshop

By Sasha Forsen
Bio Nebraska Assistant Director

Bio Nebraska teamed up with ICAN this month to host an Emotional Intelligence Workshop for Nebraska Women in STEM. The sold-out workshop, held on Jan. 23 at UNO, provided an opportunity for participants to improve their leadership effectiveness by understanding their levels of emotional and social functioning. Despite the weather, we had a successful and productive morning.

There were many Bio Nebraska member organizations represented: Control Management, Huvepharma, McCarthy Building Companies, Merck Animal Health, Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Novozymes.

We are also grateful for our member companies who have contributed as a sponsor to our 2020 Women in STEM calendar of events, including this workshop. We give a special thank you to PhRMA, Bayer, Streck, Novozymes and Neogen for supporting this growing and important initiative for our association. 

Mark your calendars for our next Women in STEM event, a breakfast program at Hudl in Lincoln on March 24. We will be sharing more details soon. 


ADM Identifies Plant-Based Protein Trends
As food companies look for ways to keep pace with the rapidly expanding and evolving market, ADM has identified key trends that will drive plant-based protein innovation in 2020 and beyond.

MatMaCorp Introduces DNA Test for Cattle
MatMaCorp rolled out a DNA test for bovine congestive heart failure in beef feedlot cattle, based on work with the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and UNL. Separately, the company’s genomic tools to differentiate hemp from cannabis were reviewed in Cannabis Science and Technology magazine. 

Corn Producers Applaud Trade Deal
The future of Nebraska’s corn industry is brighter following the Senate’s passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, said the Nebraska Corn Board. Nebraska’s ag exports to Canada and Mexico total $1.46 billion, with corn exports over $402 million, ethanol at $96 million and distiller’s grains at $27 million. In other news, the Corn Board said it was helping Casey’s upgrade fuel pumps to offer E15, a 15% ethanol blend, in Omaha, La Vista, Papillion and Norfolk.

Ethanol Board Lauds Cooperative Producers E15 Growth
The Nebraska Ethanol Board applauded Cooperative Producers, Inc., for adding E15 at more fuel stations, now totaling six new locations in the state.

NPPD’s Solar Shares Selling Fast, Plus It’s Making News in STEM Education
Shares for the Scottsbluff II Solar project are close to selling out for the 4.375-megawatt solar farm. In just under a month, over 90 percent of the Scottsbluff II shares have been purchased. Separately, NPPD said its 2020 Aurora Open & Innovation Showcase featuring 80 high schools will be televised statewide on Feb. 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. on News Channel Nebraska. The event also pairs businesses and kids in a new product competition utilizing NPPD’s STEM Connections mobile lab.

Neogen Beefs Up Its Whole-Genome Sequencing
Neogen is partnering with Gencove on a low-pass, whole-genome sequencing platform. Sequencing technology has the potential to provide more data, and more powerful discovery capabilities, than current commercial assays for animal DNA testing.


Nebraska researchers develop a device to mitigate effects of a stroke. 

UNL Researchers Invent Stroke Treatment
UNL’s Steven Barlow and Greg Bashford have developed technology that can increase blood flow to areas of the body impacted by an ischemic stroke. Their research created a somatosensory stimulator that can increase velocity of blood flow up to 20 percent, which could make the difference between life and death.

Budding STEM Students Face OPPD Marshmallow Challenge
All fifth-grade classrooms in Omaha Public Power District’s service territory are invited to join a Marshmallow Challenge. Their mission is to build towers out of dry spaghetti, string, tape and a marshmallow.

Combine Gets Accelerator Grant
The Combine, an ag- and food-tech incubator on Nebraska Innovation Campus, received a $50,000 SBA Growth Accelerator Fund award. The competition involved $3 million dollars dispersed across thirty-nine states and sixty winners. 

Phelps County Offers Scholarships for High-Demand Jobs
Graduating seniors, college students or underemployed workers seeking a career locally can apply for high-demand job scholarships offered by Phelps County’s Development Corporation and Community Foundation to grow their workforce in technical careers. 

SBIR/STTR Workshop Jan. 30-31 at UNMC
NIH and 10 other federal agencies fund grants to translate commercially viable research. A two-day workshop at UNMC’s Durham Research Center will showcase how-tos in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants for life-science innovators.

NU President Carter Outlines Optimism for NU System
“Our university – and our state – have arrived at a critical moment in our history. Many of you have asked about my goals for the university system. It would be presumptuous to make a plan before I’ve had the opportunity to listen and learn from Nebraskans who know this university far better than I. I’ll spend my initial months doing just that, and I will need the good ideas of partners across the state to help us chart a path forward. I do know this: We’re going to talk a lot about growth, in just about every sense of the word.”

Kearney Tech Edge Conference Focuses on Technology Instruction
UNK’s annual Tech Edge Spring Conference – “Innovation, Technology and Computer Science in Education” – is scheduled for Feb. 8, when a dozen speakers will cover technology-instruction topics.

Governor Proposes Scholarships for High-Demand Fields
In his annual State of the State address, Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed a new scholarship program that would support students in high-demand fields like engineering, mathematics, health care and information technology. The proposal would be split $8 million at NU and $8 million at state and community colleges over four years.

UNMC Sets New Record for Research Awards
UNMC brought in over $138 million in research dollars for fiscal year 2019, a 2 percent increase from the previous year's record.  Jennifer Larsen, vice chancellor for research, said, "This steady upward trend, in a time of fiscal uncertainty for research, shows how we continue to recruit outstanding scientific talent to UNMC and our existing faculty continue to grow in their research-funding success." The College of Medicine had a 13.3 percent funding increase and the College of Nursing had a 30.5 percent increase.

Swindells Honored by UNMC
Susan Swindells, an international leader in HIV-associated infections, has been named the 14th UNMC Scientist Laureate, the highest honor UNMC bestows upon researchers. In the past five years, she has been responsible for more than $33 million in multiple clinical trials and training grants. She will be honored March 3, along with 21 distinguished UNMC researchers.

UNL Education Researchers Looking into Latino Gap in STEM
Latinos represented only 7% of the American STEM workforce, despite accounting for more than 16% of the U.S. population. UNL’s Natalie Koziol, assistant professor, and Marc Goodrich, assistant professor of special education, are searching for ways to close the math-testing gap for Spanish-speaking students.

UNL, Wayne State Offering New Ag Degree
UNL and Wayne State College are offering students an innovative pathway to degrees in agriculture, natural resources and life sciences while staying close to home. Students can receive two bachelor’s degrees: an applied science degree from UNL and a life sciences degree from Wayne State. 

UNL Studies How Laser-Generated X-Rays Affect Catalysts
By flashing intense X-rays at enzymes, UNL’s Mark Wilson, associate professor of biochemistry, and colleagues are studying the effect on chemical reactions in cells. Their approach may help guide the design of targeted pharmaceutical drugs.

Drought Center Gains $800,000 Grant
UNL’s National Drought Mitigation Center, beginning its 26th year, received a $833,384 USDA grant to better help landowners and communities and build tools that monitor impact of drought on natural resources.


From left, James Lawler, co-director of the Global Center for Health Security, Angela Hewlett, medical director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, and Mark Rupp, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases, speak to the press about the Wuhan coronavirus. 

UNMC On Coronavirus: Don't panic.
Infectious disease experts from UNMC and Nebraska Medicine met with media to discuss the Wuhan coronavirus. "Right now, the risk in the United States and in most countries outside of China is very low," said James Lawler, co-director of the Global Center for Health Security.