Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Illinois Invests $680M in Biotechnology Sector to Enhance Biomanufacturing and Precision Fermentation Capabilities

The state of Illinois is set to advance in the biotechnology sector through a substantial government investment strategy, enhancing its biomanufacturing and precision fermentation capabilities. The initiative, led by Governor JB Pritzker in partnership with Innovate Illinois, involves an allocation of $680 million to create the Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Tech Hub, supported by both public and private funding.

“This designation positions Central Illinois to become a global leader in biomanufacturing and precision fermentation”

Governor Pritzker claims that the vision for iFAB is to support the state’s broader goals of becoming a central figure in the global biomanufacturing landscape over the coming decade. He states, “Home to world-class institutions, modernized infrastructure, and first-rate research centers, Illinois is transforming technology, biomanufacturing, and innovation at every turn.” The governor further underlined the transformative potential of iFAB, positioning it as a catalyst for economic development and high-quality job creation in Central Illinois.

Leveraging Illinois’ strengths

The iFAB initiative is spearheaded by the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in partnership with 30 other key stakeholders. It aims to leverage the state’s agricultural strengths to drive innovation and economic growth within the sustainable biomanufacturing sector. Beth Conerty, associate director of IBRL and regional innovation officer for iFAB, noted, “Our program is strategically positioned to lead the charge in transforming the bioeconomy. Through iFAB, Illinois is not just participating in biomanufacturing—we are helping shape the future of the industry.”

Endorsements from federal representatives, including US Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, praise the initiative’s ability to position Illinois at the forefront of economic growth and job creation through advanced research and development in biomanufacturing.

iFAB Tech Hub
© iFAB Tech Hub

iFAB’s “lab-to-line” model seeks to accelerate the transition of bio-innovations from research and development to full-scale manufacturing. This approach is designed to attract biomanufacturing companies to Central Illinois, positioning the region as a leading destination for sustainable product development, including novel ingredients and materials.

Robert J. Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, notes that the collaboration between academia and industry is pivotal to iFAB’s success. He states, “When universities and industry come together as partners, you see a massive increase in the speed of development and implementation. This ecosystem for discovery and innovation is what makes Illinois a leader in the field.”

Global funding for alternative proteins

This year has seen a notable surge in government funding directed towards the alternative protein sector. The US Department of Defense introduced the Distributed Bioindustrial Manufacturing Investment Program (DBMIP) at the beginning of last month. This initiative aims to bolster biotechnological advancements, providing a new funding avenue for enterprises operating within the alternative protein sector.

Overseas, the UK government recently allocated £12 million towards establishing a Microbial Food Hub, a research center that specializes in fermentation-based foods, to craft sustainable and pioneering substitutes for traditional animal products. Meanwhile, the Catalonia government unveiled plans to invest €12 million into a pre-industrial facility in Spain. This facility will be dedicated to extracting, producing, and refining alternative protein ingredients and food products.

Pritzker concluded, “This designation positions Central Illinois to become a global leader in biomanufacturing and precision fermentation over the next decade — bringing economic development and good-paying jobs along with it. I want to congratulate everyone who took the iFab vision and turned it into a world-class, federally designated Tech Hub—you are helping create a better Illinois for all.”

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