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September 26, 2003

Research Park company relies on symbiotic tie to Iowa State

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by Linda Charles
Location, location, location.

That's what was important to Proliant Inc. when it settled into the ISU Research Park about 15 years ago. Iowa State, with its research facilities, faculty and students, was a big draw.

Proliant is in the food ingredient business. With its sister company, APC, Proliant provides meat and dairy proteins for both people and animals. For example, Proliant may have made the beef stock in your vegetable beef soup, the whey protein in your nutrition bar or some of the ingredients in Fido's dog food.

All the resources of the university are virtually around the corner and Proliant takes advantage of them, said Regena Butler, Proliant scientist.

The company has developed products at the Center for Crops Utilization Research pilot plant, and rented space in ISU meat science and food science labs.

And, it found an unexpected bonus -- student interns and workers. In the early days at the research park, the company hired an occasional student employee. Now, eight student employees work on the food side of the business, and more on the feed side, Butler said. It has been a symbiotic relationship, Butler pointed out, with master's students often using their work at the company for their thesis projects.

Perhaps the biggest draw of all, Butler said, is the closeness of Iowa State's library system. "It's so easy to run over to the library and do, say, a patent search," she said. Just another way that Iowa State is good for business.

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Published by: University Relations,
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