Alltech has supported DCU for a number of years. Could you tell us why Alltech decided to partner with DCU and what it is about DCU as a university that stood out to Alltech?
Alltech has had links with DCU since we opened our Bioscience Centre in Dunboyne in 1999. We would have originally taken on interns as part of the INTRA integrated work placement programme. I myself had a work placement with Alltech in 1993 as part of my degree and then received a scholarship to complete a PhD with them after, so I have seen first-hand the positive opportunities which can open up from professional internships.
When we expanded our facility in 2011, we wanted to include cell culture capabilities and approached the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB) at DCU to help us develop this, as we knew how well established they were in the field. This further developed our relationship with the university. Along with this, we have continued to maintain and establish connections with different researchers in numerous departments, so our partnership with DCU now has a great reach. All along, we have ensured to continue support for Masters and PhD students and have now seen a number come through the collaborative process between DCU and Alltech. We have always had a great rapport with DCU as they are so easy to work with and very industry friendly.
Alltech supports the Access Programme in DCU, which helps to level the playing field for all young people who have the ambition to attend university, no matter what their background. Does equality play an important role at Alltech?
Certainly, as an organisation, we pride ourselves on this being one of our main pillars. The founder of Alltech, Dr. Pearse Lyons was always a strong believer in education for all, regardless of background or circumstance. Providing financial help and the access to research funding and labs is of the utmost importance to us. We aim to work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal in the area of education and equality and ensure that no one is left behind in this sense.
When it came to the Access Programme, it was very clearly a system that aligned with what we, as an organisation believe in. We got to know more about the Access Programme when we looked to take on more interns. DCU was a great place to start as we had such a positive experience with the INTRA students.
“One of our own senior members of the research team in Dunboyne, Helen Smith, interned with us and came through the Access Programme. From this, we could see that giving Access students a chance could really benefit us as a business also.”
Alltech have supported the DCU Access to the Workplace Programme since it began in 2019. What encouraged you to back this programme?
As I mentioned, we had seen the benefits of taking on students as interns and to give someone a chance to partake in a professional internship who would not have attained it otherwise, was something we could fully get behind from the get go. For us, having people work with us from different backgrounds really drives creativity and innovation amongst the team. Different ways of thinking are important for any organisation and for us this also works incredibly well from a research point of view.
Being inclusive when it comes to education and indeed overall is something we really value here. Over the last ten years, we have seen a surge in the number of females working in STEM and we work towards equality in this way also. Taking on interns through the Access to the Workplace Programme is something we plan to continue to do as we maintain the company ethos, education for all.