ISU, Cedar Rapids partner on agricultural bioprocessing

By Iowa State University | March 11, 2015

A partnership between Iowa State University and the City of Cedar Rapids will explore opportunities for expanding the success of the region’s agricultural and bioprocessing industries.

City and university officials recently announced the establishment of an Iowa State research and extension liaison position. The liaison will have an office in Cedar Rapids, and will work closely with the city’s processing industries to identify opportunities for collaborating with Iowa State scientists, engineers, extension and economic development specialists.

“The partnership is an outstanding example of how we can work together to take a strong economic sector in Iowa to a whole new level,” said Iowa State University President Steven Leath. “With Iowa State’s expertise in agriculture, biosciences and engineering, and Cedar Rapids’ powerhouse capabilities in processing, we’ll work to enhance economic development in the region focused on food, feed and fuel.”

“These industries are the backbone of our economy,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. “When other communities turned their backs on agriculture in pursuit of the ‘new economy,’ Cedar Rapids did not. We knew that agriculture and ag business would lead through innovation, research and new product applications. This partnership cements our belief that agriculture will always play a role in the success of Cedar Rapids and the success of Iowa.”

The announcement is a result of series of discussions and visits that began in 2013, organized by Cedar Rapids city and economic development officials and leaders from Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Bioeconomy Institute, Extension and Outreach and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations.

Iowa State and Cedar Rapids will share in the cost of funding the new liaison position, estimated to be $114,000. The nature and scope of future collaborations will develop once the position is filled, but may include:

- researching and developing more environmentally friendly processing technologies;

- adding value to processing waste streams through coproducts and byproducts;

- developing innovative products — such as biorenewable fuels and biobased products — from agricultural raw materials;

- exploring new directions for food ingredients that boost health and wellness; and

- facilitating training opportunities to enhance the skills and capabilities of Cedar Rapids industry employees.

The Cedar Rapids region is one of the leading bioprocessing and food ingredient centers in North America. Area companies serving global demands include Cargill, DuPont, Penford, ADM, Quaker Foods & Beverages, General Mills, Red Star, Genencor and Diamond V Mills. The city also is home to international businesses involved in production of yeast, dietary fiber and cellulose-based pharmaceutical ingredients.

Cedar Rapids is the largest ethanol producer in the world, producing 540 million gallons annually. Each year area companies use 140 million bushels of corn to manufacture high fructose corn syrup and industrial and food starches.

Iowa State University is Iowa’s land-grant university, recognized for strengths in science and technology and an exceptional student experience. The 34,732 students enrolled in fall 2014 represent all 50 states and 110 countries. More than 20,000 Iowa residents attend Iowa State.