November 28, 2023

Greater Peoria: Emerging as a Leader in Bioprocessing Innovation

Central Illinois’ Rise to Technological Prominence

Recent developments in Central Illinois have catapulted the region into a leading position in the technological innovation landscape, particularly in the field of bioprocessing. The designation of Champaign and Macon counties as a “TechHub” by the US Economic Development Administration marks a significant milestone. This accolade, emerging from a national competition, highlights regions with the potential to evolve into innovation centers, particularly for critical technologies that will shape our future economy.

Central Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing Hub

At the core of this initiative is the Central Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Hub, located at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. The iFAB Hub focuses on precision fermentation, a cutting-edge technology with far-reaching implications. The global market for precision fermentation products, ranging from ethanol to “Sustainable Aviation Fuel,” is projected to reach a staggering $11.8 billion by 2028, underscoring the importance of this field.

Greater Peoria’s Strategic Advantage

Why does this matter to Greater Peoria? The region’s strategic location, nestled in the heart of the United States’ largest farm production area for feedstocks and home to the world’s most extensive bioprocessing plant production, offers a unique advantage. This geographical positioning allows Greater Peoria to significantly benefit from the investments and advancements in bioprocessing, even though TechHub is 90 miles east.

Greater Peoria’s Bioprocessing Landscape

The bioprocessing industry is not new to the Greater Peoria area. Our region already hosts major ethanol producers like Alto Ingredients and BioUrja and innovative entities such as PMP Fermentation, Corbion, and Midwest BioProcessing Center. Remarkably, companies like Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), which utilize plants as alternatives to plastics, are also part of this bioprocessing revolution.

Spotlight on Regional Involvement

A recent visit by Sally Hanley and Kathie Brown from the Greater Peoria EDC to Alto Ingredients in Pekin highlighted the region’s significant role in this sector. The Pekin facility, which also serves as the headquarters for Alto Ingredients, boasts integrated dry and wet mill distilleries and specialized yeast production capabilities. They produce a wide array of products, including high-quality alcohols, proteins, specialty feed and food products, and low-carbon renewable fuel. This visit emphasized the readiness of companies like Alto Ingredients and, by extension, the Greater Peoria region to capitalize on the advancements and opportunities presented by the new TechHub initiatives.

Greater Peoria stands at the threshold of a new era in bioprocessing and technological innovation. With its strategic location, existing industrial landscape, and emerging opportunities from the iFAB Hub, the region is well-positioned to lead in this vital and rapidly evolving sector. As we embrace these advancements, Greater Peoria continues demonstrating its pivotal role in shaping a sustainable and innovative future.