Advancing Wisconsin’s Rural Bioeconomy

October 21, 2020, 9:00 am - noon

Video playlist can be found at this link

Wisconsin’s agricultural expertise and abundant natural resources offer fertile ground for building an enhanced bioeconomy that is sustainable, resilient, and — by utilizing waste streams as feedstocks for new products — circular.

This emerging economic model based on utilization of renewable organic material has the potential to accelerate rural economic development in many ways. New technologies could transform local, renewable waste materials and non-food crops into new revenue streams for farmers and producers. Existing industries could access new markets with novel bio-based or biodegradable materials, growing their economic impact and job base. And converting organic materials into valuable products would keep excess nutrients off the landscape and out of our waterways, improving water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

Join us to learn and discuss how a circular bioeconomy can make Wisconsin and other rural communities more resilient, sustainable, and prosperous.


9:00 am – Welcome & Introduction to the Bioeconomy (Video Link)

  • Mary Blanchard, WEI Associate Director, UW–Madison
  • Tim Donohue, GLBRC Director and WEI Interim Director, Ira L. Baldwin Professor of Bacteriology, UW–Madison

9:15 am – Wisconsin's changing rural economic landscape (Video Link)

  • Paul Mitchell, Director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, UW–Madison

9:35 am – Adding value to biomass and residues

  • Lignin to acetaminophen – John Ralph, Professor of Biochemistry, UW–Madison (Video Link)
  • Conversion of lignin to PDC, a precursor to bio-based plastic – Canan Sener, Scientist, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, UW–Madison (Video Link)
  • Products from dairy waste – Daniel Noguera, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UW–Madison (Video Link)
  • Products from conversion residues – Michael Thomas, Professor of Bacteriology, UW–Madison
  • Pyran – Kevin Barnett, Co-founder, Pyran (Video Link)

10:00 am – Systems approach to the bioeconomy supply chain and organic waste management (Video Link)

  • Victor Zavala, Baldovin-DaPra Associate Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering, UW–Madison

10:25 am – Break

10:30 am – Systems-level considerations for distributed production of fuels, chemicals, and other products (Video Link)

  • Christos Maravelias, Anderson Family Professor in Energy and the Environment Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University

10:45 am – Panel: Perspectives on the bioeconomy, rural economic development, and the potential impact for Wisconsin (Video Link)

  • Moderator:
  • Panelists:
    • Adam Brock, Director of Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory Compliance, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
    • Steve Dvorak, President, DVO, Inc.
    • Steven Deller, Professor of Agricultural & Applied Economics, UW–Madison
    • Frank Frassetto, State Director of USDA Rural Development in Wisconsin

11:30 am – Leveraging bio-based products to bolster the Oneida Nation economy (Video Link)

11:45 am – Environmental Impacts and Sustainability Implications of Struvite Recovery (Video Link)

  • Andrea Hicks, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UW–Madison

12:00 pm – Concluding remarks and adjourn

More Information


IN2 Innovation Incubator

IN2's logoThis event is supported in part by a grant from IN2 Innovation Incubator funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation. IN2 collaborates with the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (Danforth Center) in its support of new energy and agricultural-related innovations.

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