The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) strives to accelerate economic impact by empowering expanded uses and markets of valueadded agriculturally derived products. For more than 30 years, AURI has accomplished this work by collaborating on a global and local level to deliver economic impact for the state of Minnesota. AURI prides itself on the ingenuity of its staff and collaborators, showcasing a commitment to innovative and resourceful projects and initiatives.
One area in which AURI is exploring value-added agriculture opportunities is the use of agricultural feedstocks in bioindustrial manufacturing. This system uses microbes such as bacteria, yeast and algae to develop new materials and produce sustainable alternatives to existing petroleumbased materials. A major entity advancing work in this space is BioMADE, a public-private partnership driving the transformative bioindustrial manufacturing movement in the United States.
Officially launched in April 2021, BioMADE’s mission is to enable domestic bioindustrial manufacturing at all scales, develop technologies to enhance U.S. bioindustrial competitiveness, de-risk investment in relevant infrastructure and expand the biomanufacturing workforce to realize the economic premise of industrial biotechnology.
It accomplishes this work by catalyzing collaboration and innovation to reduce barriers to scale-up and commercialization, accelerates technologies to create novel, disruptive business models and re-develops existing biotechnology to enhance competitiveness on a national scale.
By bridging the gap between lab-scale research and at-scale manufacturing, BioMADE builds an on-ramp to accelerate commercialization of biotechnology inventions originating from American research and development efforts. BioMADE leverages a network of the best capabilities available nationwide to drive products to market and build a community that shares the benefits of these transformative solutions. BioMADE’s national network is comprised of over 220 members spanning industry, academia and non-profit organizations, including AURI.
BioMADE’s technical and research development priorities are on the leading edge of innovation and generating impact in the value-added agriculture space. Because bioindustrial manufacturing typically uses readily available agricultural feedstocks, American farmers will benefit from the new markets created by BioMADE technologies, and communities around the country will benefit from the manufacturing jobs creating the associated products.
“We look forward to partnering with BioMADE to position Minnesota’s agriculture industry, farmers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and agribusinesses at the forefront of innovation so they can be positively impacted by value-added agriculture,” said AURI Executive Director Shannon Schlecht.
The collaboration between AURI and BioMADE comes on the heels of a large-scale initiative called Minnesota Forward, approved by the Minnesota legislature in 2023.
Following the support of up to $100 million from Governor Walz and the Minnesota Legislature, BioMADE announced that it will invest in stateof- the-art bioindustrial manufacturing infrastructure in Minnesota. The forthcoming biomanufacturing infrastructure investments in Minnesota will be the first in a national network of critically needed pilot-scale biomanufacturing innovation facilities that will transform American manufacturing for the 21st century.
This project will launch Minnesota as a leader in bioindustrial manufacturing and beyond. Governor Walz stated the positive impacts of this venture go beyond farming and rural communities, benefiting everyone by creating new domestic products, strengthening supply chains and helping reach ambitious climate goals.
The bipartisan support from the state of Minnesota builds on federal investment and domestic biomanufacturing priorities established by Congress and the Biden administration.
“Biotechnology presents a new frontier for Minnesotans, an opportunity to build on our proud agricultural past and our characteristic optimism,” said Senator Aric Putnam [AURI Board member]. “This partnership between BioMADE, private industry, education, Federal and State governments will create new technology and new jobs and will also pave the way for a more green, sustainable future. This is a game-changer for Minnesota.”
Although there are countless American companies working on bioindustrial manufacturing innovations every day, the current lack of domestic infrastructure required to transition from the laboratory to commercial production results in American companies doing scale-up work overseas. BioMADE’s multi-year effort to create a national network of domestic, pilotscale infrastructure, and launch of the facility in Minnesota, will fundamentally transform American manufacturing and re-shore manufacturing jobs.
AURI continues to explore unique views and capabilities, while building innovative and collaborative partnerships to generate greater outcomes for Minnesota’s ag producers and industry.
Schlecht said BioMADE provides another great opportunity to convert biomass and agriculturally derived feedstocks into higher value products. It is a space AURI has worked in for 34 years in Minnesota and the organization has seen an exceptional return to Minnesota’s economy and agricultural industry.
“This major investment accelerates this value-added opportunity and its potential to make Minnesota an epicenter for new innovations in the bioindustrial sector,” Schlecht said.