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State of Illinois announces $680m investment in biotech sector through government investment strategy
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State of Illinois announces $680m investment in biotech sector through government investment strategy

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The Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Tech Hub has been awarded around $51 million from the Tech Hubs Program through the state’s Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).


The iFAB consortium, led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will receive a Phase 2 Implementation grant to boost Illinois’ position in biomanufacturing and precision fermentation, supporting national security, economic growth and job generation.


The Phase 2 grant will fill gaps to support the wide spectrum of biomanufacturing businesses that are developing precision fermentation innovations to create zero-emission, high-value products from agricultural commodities.


Beth Conerty, iFAB regional innovation officer and associate director of business development at the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, said: “Securing this grant is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of our partners and the strategic importance of leveraging biology as a manufacturing technology of the future – we are thrilled to lead this charge in making Central Illinois the heart of biomanufacturing in the US and beyond”.


IFAB leader Nicole Bateman, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County, added: “Central Illinois is uniquely positioned to lead the way in biomanufacturing, leveraging an ecosystem of industry leaders, innovative startups, world-class R&D, scalable infrastructure, abundant feedstock production and robust transportation networks. This landmark investment in iFAB’s vision and infrastructure will allow the US to rival Europe and China, who have been investing heavily in this space.”


The EDA grant will help realise a $40 million expansion of IBRL, which will include a 1500-litre fermenter capacity upgrade.


Primient and Synonym will receive funding to achieve a fermentation capacity of 13,000 litres, and ADM will use Phase 2 funding to upgrade its precision fermentation facility to 80,000 litres.


IFAB is supported by the coalition Innovate Illinois, a strategic initiative led by Governor J.B. Pritzker and co-chaired by University of Illinois’ chancellor Robert Jones.


Jones concluded: “Today's EDA grant not only acknowledges but actively fuels our mission to establish Central Illinois as a pivotal biomanufacturing player on the global stage. With these new resources, we are equipped to accelerate our initiatives, ensuring that our region not only meets but sets the gold standard for biomanufacturing innovation. This partnership exemplifies how the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can leverage its expertise and resources to fuel progress and prosperity right in our backyard.”


This is the latest in a number of biotech investments in Illinois, including Governer Pritzker and Innovate Illinois' $680 million investment in March to establish the new iFAB hub. These investments position the state as the US leader in biotechnology, compared to other states (Florida, Ohio and Iowa), which have imposed restrictions on cellular agriculture.


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IFAB awarded $51m from the Tech Hubs Program

Phoebe Fraser

8 July 2024

IFAB awarded $51m from the Tech Hubs Program

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