June 15, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 12)
Iowa’s Agronomic Ecosystem
Often characterized as simply an “ag state,” Iowa has capitalized on its heritage and in-depth plant, animal, and human research capabilities to build a thriving Agronomic Ecosystem. When you visit Iowa today, you’ll find cutting-edge research universities, renewable energy breakthroughs, human health discoveries, and biomedical startups. You’ll find a state where innovative companies from all over the world have come to create a dynamic future.
A core part of this ecosystem is Iowa’s three public universities—the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa—that are world-renowned for their research programs and collaborative approach with area companies.
Collaborative Education Institutions
Iowa State features several focused R&D initiatives like the Plant Sciences Institute that works on bioenergy production; the Center for Crops Utilization Research, which features pilot-scale processing and testing equipment; and a recent partnership with Berkeley-based, Kiverdi, to help commercialize its process to convert waste gases to sustainable oils and chemicals in consumer products.
The University of Iowa’s (UI) Institute for Clinical and Translational Science works to accelerate discoveries from bench to bedside and was recently recognized by the National Institute of Health. Plus, the BioVenture building at the UI research park in Coralville is dedicated to the incubation of biotechnology and biomedical companies.
These research collaborations, plus industry-led curriculum, help to prepare future graduates to meet the world’s most vital problems, including food production and security, renewable energy and human health.
During the past decade, the bioscience workforce in Iowa grew by 26%. Iowa also has the fifth highest concentration of food scientists in the country. Plus, nearly 33% of Iowans (25–44 yrs.) hold a bachelor’s degree. This recruiting pool is deep with talent and provides Iowa biotechnology companies the ability to sustain healthy growth.
Cluster of Industry Leaders & Startups
A critical mass of genetics and bioscience companies find Iowa offers a friendly business environment to compete globally and expand R&D operations. In fact, Iowa’s bioscience R&D expenditures are 12% higher than the national average.
- Kemin Industries’ groundbreaking research into plant properties has led to innovations ranging from FloraGLO® Lutein—which helps prevent and slow macular degeneration—to plant-based ingredients that improve food safety. Kemin employs nearly 2,000 people and has operations in more than 90 countries. Yet, it calls Iowa home.
- An international leader in plant science, DuPont Pioneer has close to 14,000 employees worldwide, with 3,400 based in Iowa. In the last five years, Pioneer has successfully recruited an additional 1,400 lab technicians, researchers, and quality corporate employees in Iowa to support its core initiative to responsibly feed the world’s growing population.
- Cargill and CJ Bio America, a subsidiary of Korean food and biosciences giant, CJ CheilJedang Corporation, have invested $500 million in a new biorefinery campus. Cargill operates a corn wet mill ethanol plant, while next door, CJ Bio America uses the byproducts to process amino acids for swine and poultry feed.
- Harrisvaccines uses its unique alphavirus RNA vaccine production platform for safer, quicker, and more effective production. The company is working to eradicate some of the most economically devastating animal diseases today.
- NewLink Genetics is a publicly traded pharmaceutical company testing promising treatments for pancreatic cancer.
- Valent BioSciences Corporation, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sumitomo Chemical Compa ny, is completing construction of a $150 million biorational manufacturing facility in 2014. The biotechnology facility will produce microbials, environmentally friendly pesticides that use natural bacteria instead of chemicals, to protect crops.
These companies, plus thousands more, benefit from access to abundant raw materials, Iowa’s strong transportation infrastructure, and a business-friendly environment. Iowa boasts the fourth lowest cost of doing business and offers a 6.5% tax credit for R&D activities.
Iowa provides the ideal location for both new and existing bioscience firms. With its well-educated and adaptable workforce, cluster of industry leaders, and state government investment, Iowa’s Agronomic Ecosystem can be a catalyst for your success. Learn more at iowaeconomic
Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Number of Employees: 125