Premex Innovation Labs, a Colombia, South America-based animal and human nutrition company, is holding an open house at its new U.S. headquarters in Durham.

The event is open to the public from 4:30 to 7 p.m. today, Thursday, July 27, at the Premex facility at 1307 Person Street.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center and its partners at North Carolina State University helped draw the company’s U.S. headquarters to Durham from Boca Raton, Florida.

“We worked with NCSU to demonstrate the ecosystem here and introduce them to the community,” said Scott Johnson, MBA, the Center’s vice president for agricultural biotechnology. “The company’s decision-makers met with our senior team here and shared their vision.

“They were very impressed with NCSU and the research they do with an animal feed mill on campus. They also liked the existing high technology agriculture and life sciences here,” Johnson said. “They approach what they do from a real scientific basis.”

Paula Barngrover, Premex development and innovation director, agreed.

“The environment and the ability to collaborate with the ecosystem at NCSU is exactly what attracted us to the Triangle,” he said. “It’s a great source for talent and for interaction with companies in the life sciences.”

Barngrover said the company, which has 600 employees, has six at its Durham facility and will likely increase that to eight. The Durham staff is primarily composed of biochemists, microbiologists, and cellular scientists.

More animal protein from less input

Founded in 1979, the company helps its customers, primarily in Southeast Asia and South America, produce more protein from animals at a lower cost and using fewer resources, Barngrover said in an interview.

Animal protein consumption is increasing in developing countries, she noted. “As people get higher incomes, they start to consume more animal protein. We want to help our customers make higher quality protein at lower cost to help more people meet their needs.”

The company measures itself by how many dishes of food it serves per day, she noted. To date, at least 180 million dishes of food have been served with at least one Premex ingredient. That includes 80 million dishes of Premex-fed pork; 37.5 million dishes of Premex-fed poultry; 48.8 million dishes with Premex-fed bovines; 27.2 million dishes with eggs from Premex-fed laying hens; and more.

“We make the feed more beneficial for the animals,” Barngrover said. “We include micro-nutrients, vitamins and additives.”

Seeking collaborations and partnerships

The company is actively seeking collaboration and partnerships here, she added. “Animal protein production is a complex system with a lot of a factors coming into play.”

One current focus of the company, Barngrover said, “Is helping our customers produce protein with fewer antibiotics and we need help for that.”

She also said the company is looking for “Management solutions, software and other things of that nature.”

“The open house is to celebrate with those who welcomed us to North Carolina, for networking and making connections,” she said. About 70 were expected as of Tuesday.

The company website notes that it focuses on “building meaningful relationships.”

It says, “We firmly believe in evolving through relationships based on rapport, collaborative work, integrity and humility.”

The innovative company has collaborators in nine countries. According to its website, 31 percent of the company talent is female, and 46 percent are millenials.

Those who want to attend the open house should RSVP to