Growing Lawrence Technology Company Uses DNA to Ensure Food Chain Traceability

By Lindsey Slater

Communications Director

Lawrence Chamber of Commerce

September 24, 2019

Lawrence is located in the middle of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world. IdentiGEN, whose U.S. operations are based in the Bioscience and Technology Business Center at the University of Kansas, uses DNA technology to trace meat and seafood back to the individual animal of origin.

This spring, the company announced a collaboration with Tyson Fresh Meats, utilizing IdentiGEN’s signature DNA TraceBack® system for cattle raised for Tyson’s Open Prairie Natural Angus Beef.

“Our DNA TraceBack® program is the most advanced meat traceability system available and uses nature’s barcode to link meat from the point of sale back to the source,” said Kent Partida, the vice president of North American business development for IdentiGEN. “It will enable retail and food service customers of Open Prairie beef to confidently share their traceability story with shoppers.”

Several years ago, the BTBC and IdentiGEN began discussions about moving the company into BTBC’s current building on KU’s West Campus. With help from the BTBC’s stakeholders, including the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, KU and
The Chamber, IdentiGEN remained in Lawrence and is the first company committed to expanding into the BTBC’s Phase III building, set to break ground this fall.

“We have an international company putting roots down in Lawrence, Kansas,” said G.R. Underwood, president of the BTBC. “They see the value in being close to the university. They see the value of being in a great community, and they see the value in being an anchor in an emerging research and business park in our city.”

IdentiGEN says its DNA TraceBack® technology is the world’s most advanced food traceability system, providing a level of trust to consumers in what they are eating, where it is from and how it was reared.

While beef was the starting point, the company now serves a wider international animal protein market with multiple DNA-based solutions that ensure the integrity, safety and origin of meat and seafood.

“It’s great to see that our technology can benefit an entire industry,” said Ciaran Meghen, the founder and executive director. “That’s very satisfying, as it is built on many years of experience and hard work.”

Meghen says the Midwestern location of the BTBC is ideal for the company and its future growth because of the cattle industry and KU. “We can attract talented KU bioscience graduates to work in our labs and we can participate in KU research and educational programs,” he said.