Consider Corn Challenge IV Spotlight: Bluestem Biosciences

February 12, 2024

Consider Corn Challenge IV Spotlight: Bluestem Biosciences

Feb 12, 2024

Key Issues:New Uses

Author: Stacey Stiens

Bluestem Biosciences—one of four grand winners of the National Corn Growers Association's (NCGA) Consider Corn Challenge IV—stands at the forefront of renewable chemicals innovation in the Midwest. Harnessing the power of programmable biology, Bluestem is revolutionizing the biomanufacturing sector by developing sustainable solutions for commodity chemicals. Their groundbreaking decarbonized chemical platform promises far-reaching benefits, from mitigating climate impact to revitalizing agricultural economies and domestic supply chains, thus paving the way for a bio-based future across the chemical sector.


At the heart of Bluestem's success lies their pioneering work in developing novel yeast biology for the anaerobic bio-production of 3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP). This chemical intermediate, with a substantial $25 billion total addressable market, serves as a strategic platform molecule with applications across diverse consumer end markets, including personal care products, acrylates, paints, and coatings. By leveraging their innovative yeast biology, Bluestem aims to retrofit underutilized, older ethanol production infrastructure across the United States, thus maximizing economic potential while supporting rural Midwest bioeconomies and agricultural communities. This paired with their “whole kernel solution,” enables the cheapest source of fermentable sugar and enables both price and performance parity to the petro-based incumbents.


"Our Market Development Action Team (MDAT) is thrilled to see how Bluestem Biosciences' technology is unlocking new horizons for corn utilization, driving innovation, and opening avenues for sustainable economic growth,” said Ohio grower and MDAT Chair Denny Vennekotter. “Bluestem’s approach not only creates new markets for corn-derived products but also inspires further exploration within the agricultural and biomanufacturing sectors. Bluestem's achievements highlight the power of collaboration between science, industry and agriculture in creating a more resilient, sustainable future while addressing need across the market."


One of the key advantages of Bluestem's technology is its ability to reduce dependence on foreign petroleum feedstock for chemical production, instead relying on domestically produced corn as the primary renewable feedstock. This not only enhances sustainability but also contributes to reshoring supply chains back to the United States, promoting domestic production and reducing reliance on foreign resources. By repurposing existing infrastructure and embracing sustainable practices, Bluestem is driving significant strides toward a greener, more resilient future for the chemical industry.


In summary, Bluestem Biosciences exemplifies the transformative potential of biotechnology in addressing pressing environmental challenges while unlocking economic opportunities. Their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and community empowerment positions them as a leading force in shaping a more sustainable and prosperous future for industry and society.