Soy holds untapped potential from bio-based energy to industrial uses and more

CHICAGO, ILL. – MARCH 20, 2024 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) announced the opening of its Soy Innovation Center aimed to support and catalyze the State of Illinois’ goal to be a national leader in sustainable technology and innovation. The launch of ISA’s new Soy Innovation Center will enhance the state’s green reputation and spearhead the commercialization and expansion of new and existing sustainable, soy-based products as the globe transitions to a low-carbon economy.

“With world-class research facilities, robust financial organizations, well-established manufacturing facilities and a highly trained workforce, Illinois is at the forefront of sustainable agricultural innovations,” said Todd Main, Director of Market Development for ISA. “This first-of-its-kind Soy Innovation Center provides ISA significant opportunities to spur research, commercialize soy-based sustainable technology solutions and support this burgeoning work by enabling new collaborations across the corporate, financial, scientific and agricultural sectors.”

At its core, the mission of the Soy Innovation Center will help companies break down barriers and accelerate the process of commercializing soy-based products into sustainable products and services. The Soy Innovation Center will offer customers viable, renewable alternatives to products containing petroleum and other fossil-based chemical compounds and help meet the growing demand for sustainably produced products across the supply chain.

In conjunction with the launch, ISA is releasing a Request for Information (RFI) from entrepreneurs, inventors, and doers who are working through challenges in commercializing, introducing, or scaling the availability of soy- and bio-based products into the marketplace.

“Soybeans are a sustainably farmed, abundant and renewable resource with commercial, health and environmental benefits,” said Steve Pitstick, Chair of Government Relations, and former Chairman of ISA. “Illinois farmers lead the world in soybean production, producing more than 670 million bushels annually. It’s a natural fit for ISA to take part in driving the State of Illinois forward to be a leader in sustainable technology as well.”

Soy has a versatile chemical composition that allows it to be utilized in a variety of ways. The molecular structure of the oil allows it to be readily modified for many applications including bio-based fuels, industrial uses and more.

Joining ISA executives at yesterday’s launch as the keynote speaker was U.S. Department of Energy official, Josh Messner. Based in their Bioenergy Technologies Office of Energy, Efficiency and Renewable Energy department, Messner addressed an audience comprised of members from the Illinois and Midwest business and financial sectors, farmers, scientists, and local and state officials.

“The U.S. has the potential for roughly 1.3 billion tons of sustainable and renewable carbon resources to decarbonize many of our hard-to-electrify sectors, including aviation, maritime and chemicals. Soybean crops, as well as their agricultural residues and wastes, will play a large role in fulfilling our nation’s need for renewable carbon resources. I’m thrilled to have participated in the Chicago launch of the Illinois Soybean Association’s Soy Innovation Center, which will play a key role in moving forward and innovating the technologies we need to boost the U.S. bioeconomy,” said Messner.

Scott Halpin, State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency, also joined ISA at the event as a panelist, “As an Illinois soybean farmer and the State Executive Director at the USDA Farm Service Agency, I am pleased to see the Illinois Soybean Association open their one-of-a-kind Soy Innovation Center. I commend them for their foresight to establish an avenue to encourage new uses for soybeans and serve as an incubator to assist entrepreneurs in achieving scalable and viable projects. Innovative research allows soybean farmers to not only improve yields and demand but also address environmental issues through USDA conservation programs. Their constant research and education initiatives continue to uphold the interests of all Illinois soybean farmers both now and in the future”.

Through the Soy Innovation Center, ISA will collaborate directly with businesses, innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs to show proof of concept, commercialize and deploy their bio-based products. The Soy Innovation Center will also provide an array of advisory and consulting services to companies as they rapidly scale and expand their soy-based product offerings. In addition, ISA will consider strategic capital investments in organizations that engage with the Soy Innovation Center.

“Many ag-tech organizations focus on advancements that help farmers increase crop yields,” said Pitstick. “However, ISA’s Soy Innovation Center is different because it’s going to help bring new soy-based technologies to market, which ultimately will increase demand for soybeans. Over time, that will bring more value to the commodity itself and the farmers who grow it.”

Since 1964, ISA has been serving the needs of farmers and communities across rural Illinois. As it celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, ISA not only celebrates the innovations of the past but looks forward to advancing opportunities for innovations of the future. The Soy Innovation Center is an extension of ISA’s mission to help facilitate the additional usage of soybean derivatives to help solve the world’s growing need for sustainably sourced products.

To learn more and engage with the Soy Innovation Center, visit


The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and government relations efforts, while the membership program, Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) and the Illinois Soybean Growers PAC actively advocates for positive and impactful legislation for farmers at local, state and national levels. ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean farmers through promotion, advocacy, research and education with the vision of becoming a trusted partner of Illinois soybean farmers to ensure their profitability now and for future generations.

Media Contact
Olivia Key
Illinois Soybean Association

Published On: March 20, 2024Categories: Latest News, Press ReleasesTags: ,

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