U.S. Senator Ted Stevens assists Denali Bio Technologies CEO Maureen McKenzie, PhD, in officially cutting the ribbon to open the new plant in Kenai.
Alaska is known as a land where dreams come true. Those who have sought their fortunes as explorers, prospectors, adventurers, and oil and gas reserve discoverers have etched their names in global history and seen their dreams come true in Alaska. Most recently scientists, investors and federal officials who dream of a healthier society have seen their dreams and research turned into reality here in Alaska. At an official ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month, Denali BioTechnologies, Alaska’s biotechnology industry pioneer, began operations of their state-of-the-art facility Kenai.
On hand for the official ribbon cutting and start of operations were U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, USDA Rural Development Director Bill Allen, and a host of dignitaries and officials from Denali Bio Technologies. “This is a beautiful example of the cooperation of the federal government, UAA Fairbanks, and superb science and private investment in developing new industry potential for Alaska. Dr. McKenzie has been the prime mover behind this effort which represents years of science and an intensity of dedication necessary to make something like this happen. Seeing this run today is like a revelation and dream come true,” said Liden Blue, one of the primary owners of Denali BioTechnologies.
Phase one of the nutraceutical manufacturing facility represents a $2.4 Million dollar investment. Construction on the new facility began in February and included the installation of new equipment such as the centerpiece Refractance Window Dryer (RWD), only the 27th placement worldwide. The RWD process uses proprietary heat transfer technology to gently, efficiently and cost-effectively remove moisture from delicate ingredients to preserve the product color, flavor, aroma, nutrients and texture.
“We’re excited about completion of our first construction phase,” said Dr. McKenzie. “We have the opportunity to position the state of Alaska at the vanguard of healing and wellness and launch a new growth industry that will bring economic opportunities to Alaskans of diverse age, skill, education and geographic location. This represents about 12 years of work trying to bring a new industry to Alaska.”
The 6,100-square-foot facility, located at 14896 Kenai Spur Highway, will be used initially for the production of Denali’s flagship product, called AuroraBlue, a dietary supplement available in pill and bulk form. According to McKenzie other products, made from four different species of Alaska blueberries, are part of the fast-growing nutraceutical industry, one that includes health supplements such as AuroraBlue and products like orange juice or granola bars spiked with nutrients. It’s an industry the biochemistry professor believes her company can make inroads to. Liden Blue, McKenzie, and Scott Haines, the company’s chief technical officer and automation engineer, have put up the bulk of the $2.4 million for the facility’s construction. McKenzie said many people look at Denali as “the berry people,” but the company’s business plan involves utilizing a wide range of Alaska plants, capitalizing on the wealth of knowledge about those plants’ health benefits gathered for years by Alaska’s native populations. In an interview with the Wall Street Reporter last week McKenzie described Alaska as a virtual medicine chest for the world and theorized that as humans migrated over the Bering Strait land bridge back and forth to South America they carried with them their favorite medicinal plants which over tens of thousands of years propagated and mutated into the most potent varieties of nutraceutical plants on the planet.
For more information about Denali BioTechnologies products contact
Dr. Maureen McKenzie at 907.283.5000 or visit their website at www.Denali-BioTechnologies.com.
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