ATCHISON, Kan., Aug. 10, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MGP Ingredients, Inc. (Nasdaq:MGPI) is teaming up with key academic institutions in Kansas to stay on the cutting edge of developing new products that can increase U.S. energy independence, provide environmental benefits and offer exciting commercialization opportunities. MGPI will serve as the lead industrial partner in the Kansas Bio-Plastics Commercialization Collaborative, which is supported by nearly $1.3 million in federal funding and coordinated by the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA). Research expertise is being provided by Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., and Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan. New products emanating from the research will be developed from bio-based plastics that use agricultural ingredients grown domestically instead of imported petroleum. MGPI will contribute its expertise and facilities to test new polymers and develop new products, with the dual goal of making bio-based plastics and end-use products fully biodegradable and cost competitive with plastics made from petroleum. "This collaborative project represents a very exciting step toward increased development of innovative, functional polymers derived principally from renewable plant-based resources," said Tim Newkirk, MGPI president and chief executive officer. "We are both elated and fortunate to have a key role in this partnership effort to help bring new, eco-friendly products to the marketplace. Furthermore, we applaud the foresight and involvement of Senator Sam Brownback, the KBA and USDA, along with the tireless efforts of Dr. Sukh Bassi, MGPI's vice president of scientific affairs, in making this initiative a reality." Kansas Bioscience Authority president Tom Thornton said, "This is another great example of bringing the right partners together to address national challenges with cutting-edge bioscience. The opportunity here is tremendous." The collaboration is made possible by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and other members of the Kansas congressional delegation who supported funding from both the Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).