For the first time in the conference’s history, Alltech will bestow a double award during ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE18), held May 20–22 in Lexington, Kentucky. The Alltech Medal of Excellence, Alltech’s highest distinction, will be awarded to the company’s late founder Dr. Pearse Lyons for his work as a visionary scientist and innovator. Additionally, Dr. Lyons will be recognized with the Alltech Humanitarian Award for his boundless philanthropic spirit.
Past recipients of the Alltech Medal of Excellence, awarded annually to someone of great accomplishment and leadership, include former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Norman Borlaug, father of “the Green Revolution.” As an entrepreneur and a tireless innovator, Dr. Lyons utilized his scientific expertise in yeast fermentation and his acute business sense to revolutionize the animal feed industry through the introduction of natural ingredients to animal feed. In the past 10 years alone, his scientific achievements have been listed in more than 300 patents.
Because of Dr. Lyons’ unique ability to look beyond the status quo, he saw opportunities to elevate and refine innovations that only lingered on the periphery of the industry. Just as his technology was ahead of its time, so was his philosophy. With each breakthrough, a host of new ideas and opportunities emerged, all of which were united by Alltech’s founding ACE principle, a charge for the company’s work to have a positive impact on the animal, consumer, and environment. This was an unpopular concept when it was first presented at Alltech’s symposium in 1989, in an age driven by pressures to produce cheap food in abundance. Dr. Lyons embraced the radical idea, which is today all but a fundamental requirement of modern agribusiness.
A world-class communicator with a propensity for personal connection, Dr. Lyons brought people and ideas of all backgrounds together to collaborate on solutions for some of agriculture’s most pressing challenges, including mycotoxins in animal feed, the environmental impact of mineral over-supplementation and how to feed a growing global population. He also insisted on achieving a nearly impossible quality standard, which many thought could not be done. He persevered, and the result was the Alltech Quality System, a global quality assurance program that has set the gold standard by meeting or exceeding all local standards globally.
The Alltech Humanitarian Award, which has previously been awarded to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, is bestowed annually to someone of strong character who uses their platform to positively influence and inspire those around them. For Dr. and Mrs. Lyons, making a difference in the world by empowering others has been an everyday reality of their personal and professional lives.
The Alltech ACE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, allows the Lyonses to put their philanthropic passion into action. One endeavor funded by the ACE Foundation includes Alltech Café Citadelle, a Haitian coffee that offers a “cup of hope” and a sustainable local enterprise for the country’s residents. All profits from the sale of the coffee are reinvested in two primary schools in northern Haiti, providing a clean and safe place for children to learn.
In Kentucky and Ireland, more than a dozen state-of-the-art science laboratories have been built at primary schools. Inspired by Dr. Lyons’ late brother, Father Kevin Lyons, a priest who was dedicated to improving the lives of children, the Lyonses hoped to inspire students to have greater curiosity about the world around them. Many of the schools with new labs have gone on to achieve Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence status.
As an entrepreneur who started Alltech in his home garage and built it into a multibillion-dollar company, Dr. Lyons recognized drive and passion in others, and he encouraged them to dream big. The Alltech Innovation Competition emboldens young entrepreneurs to create businesses that help solve local issues. Winners are awarded $10,000 — the same amount with which Dr. Lyons founded Alltech.
The Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition shines a spotlight on the hopes of young vocalists and reflects the Lyonses’ passion for education and the arts, awarding top performers with scholarship funds to attend the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre. Since its start, over 150 students have received over $7 million in scholarships and assistantships.
Whether through small acts of kindness or far-reaching scientific achievement, Dr. Lyons was committed to empowering others, inspiring lifelong learning, and making a difference in the world.
In addition to the awards presentation, the ONE18 conference will include a celebration of life in remembrance of Dr. Lyons, who passed away on March 8 at the age of 73.