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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Governor’s European Trade Mission Focuses on Bioscience Industries in Denmark

Audio here.

Copenhagen, Denmark – Gov. Ricketts’ 30-member Nebraska trade team is nearing the end of its meetings in the European Union. After beginning the mission in Italy, the delegation held strategic meetings in Belgium and Denmark focused on the bioscience industry.

In Brussels, the Governor met with executives from Ghent Port Company, TOTCO, Sygenta Brussels, and a consultant for Belgian Biodiesel Board to promote Nebraska’s biofuels industry and build relations between firms in Europe and the U.S.

“Nebraska has a powerful resume to attract these types of companies.  Now, we have to get out there and pound the pavement,” Gov. Ricketts said. “The bioscience industry is growing very rapidly as technological advances make way for innovative products and uses. We want to be positioned for more growth in this area and let companies know Nebraska is open for business.”

“Bioscience companies offer a tremendous opportunity for Nebraska agriculture by adding value to the products we are already producing,” said Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, who attended the meetings in Brussels. “We have had great success in working with top international companies in the area of biosciences, and we want to build on that momentum.”

The Governor and delegates were briefed at the U.S. Embassy about potential business opportunities with Denmark, including best prospect areas for exports to Denmark and opportunities for Nebraska to attract more Danish investments.

The mission then traveled to Novozymes world headquarters outside of Copenhagen, where a company tour showcased the production of unique enzymes and microbial products used in the animal nutrition, agriculture, and biofuels industries.

While at Novozymes, Gov. Ricketts, the United States Ambassador to Denmark, and Novozymes management hosted an invitation-only roundtable on renewable fuels and bio-products.

Nebraska delegates presented U.S. market trends and regulations to the group, with a focus on co-products, revenue opportunities, and biorefinery developments.  The group also summarized opportunities for businesses in the U.S. that partner with Nebraska and its companies.

The Nebraska team showcased the dynamic interaction between the corn, cattle, and ethanol sectors and their important roles in Nebraska’s success in agriculture.  Nebraska’s ethanol industry employs 1,300 people and serves as the second-largest ethanol producer in the United States. Nebraska’s 25 ethanol plants produced 1.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2014.

Nebraska roundtable participants included: Gov. Ricketts, Department of Economic Development Director, Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, KAAPA President and Nebraska Ethanol Board representative, Paul Kenny, Green Plains Energy COO, Jeff Briggs and American Laboratories Inc. Vice President of Sales, Bret Wyant. 

European company executives included: Novozymes, Dong Energy, Leifmark, Renew Energy, DuPont, and U.S. Embassy Representatives.

In the afternoon, the Governor and mission members met with Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen and Executive Vice Presidents of Business Development and Supply Operations Thomas Videbaek and Thomas Nagy. The discussion focused on business development and international expansion.

Novozymes is the world leader in bio-innovation and leading manufacturer of enzymes, microorganisms and biopharmaceutical ingredients. Together with customers across more than 30 industries, the company creates tomorrow’s industrial bio-solutions to improve its customers' businesses and global resources. Novozymes’ product diversity includes removing trans-fats in food and the advancement of biofuels to power the world. The company invests nearly 14 percent of its global revenue in research and development annually.

In May 2012, Novozymes opened its newest advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, NE, which is dedicated to making enzymes for renewable fuels. With more than 100 full-time employees, 400 hired for construction and $200 million in private investments, the Blair plant is the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the country. Novozymes chose Blair and the United States over countries like China in part because of strong policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard. A video and graphic are available.

Gov. Ricketts discussed Nebraska’s unique characteristics and benefits that make it an ideal location for the bioscience industry, as well as how the state can partner with Novozymes to succeed in these efforts.

As an industry, bioscience has grown its employment base in Nebraska by 10 percent since 2007.  By 2012, the industry employed more than 15,000 people across 938 businesses. Nebraska has specialization in three of the five major bioscience subsectors: agricultural feed stocks and chemicals; bioscience-related distribution; and medical devices and equipment.

One area of bioscience of particular interest to the agriculture industry is the transformation of natural organisms into industrial products. These can range from renewable fuels to bioplastics to industrial enzymes.

Hicks-Sorensen said companies at the roundtable discussion are top prospects because the biosciences sector generally brings high-paying technical jobs into the marketplace.

“Bioscience companies like Novozymes create high-paying jobs in a rapidly growing industry. Their presence in Nebraska builds off of our strength as the nation’s second largest producer of ethanol, while diversifying the state’s economy and providing more job opportunities to Nebraskans. We want to continue working with Novozymes and other companies in the industry to make Nebraska more competitive in the modern economy,” said Hicks-Sorensen.

Gov. Ricketts is also meeting with members of the Danish American Business Forum (DABF). Hicks-Sorensen and members of the Nebraska delegation joined DABF members at a roundtable breakfast meeting this morning.

Established in 1997 by prominent Danish business leaders and the U.S. Embassy, DABF was created to help Danish companies connect and share experiences about building success within the U.S. market. Membership is comprised of more than 100 Danish companies interested in expanding or investing in the United States. DABF-sponsored events throughout the year focus on specific investment-related issues and are particularly beneficial to companies expanding to the NAFTA region. 

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford is hosting Gov. Ricketts and the delegation at his residence for an evening meeting. The event will feature Nebraska beef courtesy of MetaFoods, LLC, Atlanta, Ga., Greater Omaha Packing Company, Omaha, Neb., and Emborg Catering, Aalborg, Denmark.

Approximately 60 Danish business leaders are attending the event to interact with the Nebraska mission members and learn more about the state as an investment location.

Novozymes CEO will speak about the company’s investment and operations in Nebraska and explain why it serves as an ideal location for companies to consider when entering the U.S.

Gov. Ricketts’ remarks point out Nebraska’s friendly business climate, quality of life, strong workforce, and logistical advantages.  One of Nebraska’s new attractions for bio-based businesses is the University of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus.

Gov. Ricketts said trade team leadership will actively follow up on the relationships that were established during the entire mission.