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Iowa is growing biofuels, bio-based chemicals, biomedicines, hybrid crops, sustainable technologies, biodegradable materials. Oh, and corn.

March 7, 2014

When you hear the word “agriculture” you no doubt think about family farmers tirelessly working the land to feed the world. And Iowa certainly has a rich history of doing just that. But when you visit Iowa today, you’ll find a new frontier of research universities, energy breakthroughs, human health discoveries, and bioscience startups. Below are just a few prime examples of companies that are part of a larger agronomic ecosystem.

  • Kemin Industries groundbreaking research into plant properties have 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.
  • Coming online in 2014 is Project LIBERTY, a POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels project in Emmetsburg. It’s introducing technology that will turn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into cellulosic ethanol — about 25 million gallons of renewable energy a year.
  • Biofuel can actually replace crude oil in plastics and solvents, making those products biodegradable. MCG BioComposites is a small company in eastern Iowa that is blending biomass with recycled plastics to create the building blocks for use in hundreds of renewable products.
  • Iowa State University is a leader in genome mapping and genetics. The revolutionary technologies that are being explored and developed at the University’s research park are creating innovations with global impact. For example, NewLink Genetics is a publicly traded pharmaceutical company testing promising treatments for pancreatic cancer.



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Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 1.515.348.6200
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