Media Advisory: Iowa State developing plans to advance Iowa's bioscience economy

Students set up digital cameras in a corn field to record time-lapse data of plant growth

Undergraduates set up hundreds of digital cameras to record time-lapse data of plant growth. Patrick Schnable, on the right, directs the experiment in precision and digital agriculture. Larger image. Image courtesy of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

AMES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds today released a study by the consulting firm TEConomy Partners that recommends four platforms for growing Iowa’s bioscience economy. Iowa State University has made investments and built strengths in three of the platforms – biobased chemicals; precision and digital agriculture; and vaccines and immunotherapeutics.

Iowa State administrators and researchers are preparing to help the state develop these bioscience platforms by promoting research and innovation that can contribute to the state’s economic growth.

Here’s what campus leaders say about the effort:

University expertise

Wendy Wintersteen, president

“Iowa State University has been at the leading edge of advancements in the biosciences for many years – and this report confirms the importance of our efforts. The recommendations directly align with many of Iowa State’s specific strengths as well as the Cultivation Corridor’s objective to establish Iowa as a global center for excellence in this sector. We look forward to how we can leverage our expertise and innovation along with state investment to create valuable economic opportunities for Iowans.”

Biobased chemicals

Brent Shanks, director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and the Mike and Jean Steffenson Chair in Chemical and Biological Engineering

“The biobased chemicals actions being proposed in the TEConomy report are areas in which the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) at ISU has already been active and is looking forward to furthering that work in partnership with the state of Iowa. As CBiRC is the only research center in the U.S. dedicated to biobased chemicals, we believe we can help position the state to have a big impact in this emerging technology area.”

Precision and digital agriculture

Patrick Schnable, director of the Plant Sciences Institute, a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics and the Baker Scholar of Agricultural Entrepreneurship

“The precision and digital agriculture platform builds upon ISU’s existing strengths in the plant sciences, engineering and computational sciences. By coupling arrays of novel, field-deployable sensor technologies with emerging expertise in massive data integration and predictive modeling, this platform is expected to stimulate economic development focused on making Iowa’s agricultural sector both more profitable and sustainable.”

Vaccines and immunotherapeutics

Balaji Narasimhan, director of the Nanovaccine Institute, an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and the Vlasta Klima Balloun Chair in Chemical and Biological Engineering

“ISU has numerous research strengths in the area of vaccines and immunotherapeutics, including next-generation nanovaccines, mucosal immunology, engineered biomaterials, and animal model development. Given the strong synergy between ISU’s core competencies in this area and the presence of both vaccine industry and regulatory agencies in Iowa, new investments by the state will catalyze the connectivity between ISU, industry and regulatory agencies, attracting new companies and creating new biotech jobs.”

James Roth, director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health, a Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor in Veterinary Medicine and the Presidential Chair in Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine

“The presence in Ames of Iowa State University with excellent basic science research, including an eminent College of Veterinary Medicine and associated diagnostic laboratory, the USDA National Centers for Animal Health, and the ISU Research Park (which already contains R&D centers for two international veterinary vaccine companies) presents a unique environment for entrepreneurs developing novel approaches to vaccines for difficult animal disease problems.”