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Biomass Technology

State of Iowa, USA: Cultivating growth in bioprocessing.

Iowa Sign Our coastal counterparts sometimes describe Iowa and other states in the Midwest as “flyover country.” The underlying meaning of the phrase gives favour to the glitz, glamour, hustle and bustle of the United States’ more well-known East and West Coasts. But the reality is, America’s Heartland offers equal if not more opportunity for international business writes Debi Durham ( @DebiDurham ) , the director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority.

Roughly 4,300 miles (or 7,000 km) separate Europe from Iowa, and on the surface, the two locations may seem dissimilar. But there are many shared ideals when it comes to business — an unwavering dedication to innovation, a strong commitment to collaboration and an understanding of the value of renewable resources, just to name a few.

Beyond our shared foundational beliefs, Iowa offers tangible benefits that have consistently yielded dividends for our business partners. Plentiful resources, a business friendly environment and low cost of doing business have not only bolstered the state’s economy, but supported the growth of Europe-based companies doing business in our state as well.

If you’ve never considered Iowa as a hub or outpost for your business, hopefully this article will give you a better sense of what the state has to offer and why our industrial biotech industry is thriving.

Eventually, we hope you’ll fly over to see it for yourself!

Playing to our strengths.

Iowa’s international reputation is largely rooted in the state’s plentiful renewable resources and rightfully so — agriculture is at the core of who we are. And as the world of agriculture evolves and intertwines with various other industries, Iowa remains deeply committed to cultivating an environment primed for our partners’ needs.

Global companies, such as BASF, OCI, DSM, Ajinomoto and CJ Bio, already have leveraged Iowa’s biomaterials to efficiently produce ethanol, biodiesel, pharmaceutical materials, plastics, animal feed, fertilizer and much more.

Though not an exhaustive list, these companies represent a handful of industry heavyweights that have effectively combined Iowa’s resources, stable workforce and business-friendly regulatory environment with innovation. And, with Iowa’s intimate familiarity with the complete supply chain — from raw ingredients to finished goods and byproducts — the state is well-positioned as a destination for companies to manage their process from ideation to production.

Considering the growing need for clean energy, Iowa placed a strong focus on wind energy before its popularity soared to current heights. Forward-thinking policy, augmented by Iowa’s business-friendly approach, resulted in Iowa generating more electricity from wind than any other US state. It’s a primary reason why companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, have chosen Iowa for energy-intensive, yet green, facilities.

In short, if low-cost, reliable, renewable energy is important to your company, Iowa is the location for your next expansion

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A concerted effort.

The inroads European companies have made into Iowa is no accident. Our shared success is the result of more than 40 years of a concerted and collaborative effort jointly spearheaded by Iowa’s business community, state government and our affiliates across the pond.

Iowa is committed to growing its existing European partnerships and forging new alliances as well. And even though the state’s natural resources, infrastructure and regulatory environment may be intriguing, it’s incumbent on us to ensure we are ready and well-equipped to meet any challenges that come our way.

Toward that end, IEDA’s International Trade Office (ITO) regularly organises trade missions to engage with potential international customers and provide ongoing training and marketing support to help Iowa-based companies work more effectively with international audiences.

Furthermore, financial incentives, such as Iowa’s Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit (which incentivises companies that produce renewable chemicals in Iowa by offering up to $1 million annually), are signs that our state government is actively fostering an environment designed to help businesses thrive.

Simply put, it’s an exciting time for bioscience in Iowa. In fact, Des Moines, Iowa will host the 2019 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. While some were a bit surprised that Des Moines was selected as the host city, we think attendees will be pleasantly surprised to learn we’re much more than cornfields and midwestern values. The future of bioprocessing has a home here in Iowa, and we welcome anyone who would love to grow with us.

If ever you’d like to discuss opportunities in Iowa in further detail, please feel free to visit or contact our Western European office in Frankfurt. Iowa representatives will also be at K 2019 in Dusseldorf (16-23 October, 2019).

In the meantime, visit for more information about how our state can benefit your business.

Debi Durham is the director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. 

This expert view was first published in Issue #13 of the Bio Market Insights Quarterly.

Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Bio Market Insights editorial team and management.


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