Two tech firms based in Lawrence, Kan., swept the top awards at a recent national agriculture and biotech conference.
Beating out more than 500 international competitors, Prairie Char and Integrated Animal Health snagged first and second place, respectively, at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s annual entrepreneurial showcase.
“What this says is that Kansas is very strong in the ag bio tech area,” said Robert Herrington, founder of Prairie Char. “With the programs available in our region like Pipeline and the Kansas Bio Center, we are among the leaders nationwide and even internationally now in promoting growth in the ag bio tech sector.”
The conference garnered nearly 300 ag and biotech professionals from around the world, including venture capitalists, banking institutions, entrepreneurs and scientists. Of the twelve presenting companies, there were representatives from Switzerland, Denmark, Australia and all parts of the U.S.
Prairie Char — which converts hazardous manure waste into an organic product by deconstructing it by the element — received a $10,000 grant and $3,500 to be used for legal and accounting services. Founded by Blake Hawley, Integrated Animal Health develops animal health and feeding technology and collected a $2,500 grant.
Herrington said that the winners were calculated by a combination of a secret panel of expert judges as well as the audience favorite. He added that it was already “unbelievable” there were two Kansas companies participating to begin with. Herrington was ecstatic to take home the grand prize.
“This was amazing competition,” said Herrington. “It was crazy — It felt awesome to win, I was so pleased”