DED Director K.C. Belitz moderates a panel at the World Bio Markets conference in the Hague, Netherlands on June 26th.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) led a state delegation to the Hague, Netherlands to take part in the World Bio Markets conference on June 26-27. The international event convened major industrial biomanufacturers, bio developers, and investors into the bioeconomy. Leaders from Bluestem Biosciences, Bio Nebraska, Cargill, Gateway Development Corporation (Washington County’s economic development agency), Green Plains, and Omaha Public Power District joined DED for the conference. Together, the delegation promoted the many advantages Nebraska has to offer biomanufacturers.

“Businesses are developing technologies to make virtually anything you can imagine of out of corn,” said DED Director K.C. Belitz. “Products like shoes, cosmetics, nylon, and fuels are increasingly being made with what we grow here in Nebraska instead of with petrochemicals. We’re not talking about small, boutique companies doing this—global firms like L’Oréal and Tommy Hilfiger are investing in bioproduction. The growing emphasis on sustainable production provides a unique opportunity for Nebraska to attract biomanufacturing to the state.”

Director Belitz moderated a panel at World Bio Markets to highlight how Nebraska is supporting companies as they start up, scale up, and move into full-scale industrial bioproduction. The event was also an opportunity to invite businesses to Omaha in September 2024 for Bio Innovations Midwest. The fall conference will allow Nebraska to showcase the state to companies looking to grow their biomanufacturing capacity.

Nebraska’s selling points to bio-producers include:

Prolific corn production

Nebraska is nicknamed the Cornhusker State for good reason. Nebraska produced more than 1.7 billion bushels of corn in 2023 and reliably ranks as one of the country’s top corn-producing states. Nebraska also consistently achieves corn yields that surpass the national average. Corn is a high-energy, low-cost feedstock that’s advantageous for biomanufacturing.

Biorefinery capacity

Nebraska is home to biorefineries capable of breaking down corn into the component materials that biomanufacturers use as inputs. Cargill operates the largest biorefinery campus in the United States near Blair, which is served by Omaha Public Power District. Green Plains—headquartered in Omaha—has three biorefinery locations in Nebraska. In particular, the company has invested in technologies to transform its dry-milling facility in York into a clear sugar biorefinery capable of producing industrial quantities of carbohydrate feedstock (dextrose and glucose) for bio-based manufacturing. ADM also has the potential to support bio-based manufacturing at its Columbus corn wet mill. ADM participated in the recent World Bio Markets event, having previously planned a booth prior to receiving an invitation to join the Nebraska group.

Fermentation innovation

Nebraska is rapidly developing an innovative fermentation industry. In October 2023, the National Corn Growers Association announced Bluestem Biosciences of Omaha as a winner of the Consider Corn Challenge. The competition recognizes companies who’ve created innovative ways to use corn to produce bio-based materials. DED has invested Business Innovation Act funds to support Bluestem Biosciences as it develops technologies to facilitate the sustainable production of bio-chemicals through anaerobic fermentation. Additionally, DED designated the Fermentation Collaborative as a state Innovation Hub in 2023. It is a partnership between the bioscience industry and Nebraska’s colleges and universities to grow a precision fermentation workforce, support fermentation innovation, and sustain a vibrant fermentation industry in Nebraska.

Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credits

Nebraska enacted the Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Act in 2020 to stimulate the state’s bioproducts sector. The legislation authorizes DED to offer tax credits as incentives for businesses to develop renewable chemicals in the state.

Companies like Corbion, Evonik, Novonesis, NatureWorks, Viridis, and Veramaris are among the companies who’ve invested in bioproduction facilities in Nebraska. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved Governor Jim Pillen’s request to allocate $2.5 million for an initiative to spur further growth of the state’s bioeconomy. The 2024 Governor’s Ag and Economic Development Summit will include a Bioeconomy Special Session on August 9th to spark conversations and build relationships that will accelerate Nebraska’s leadership of the national bioeconomy. Learn more at