Blair Facility Shows State’s Bioscience Industry Growth

The new Veramaris facility in Blair produces omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine algae, helping to reduce the need for wild-caught fish to support commercial salmon production. Veramaris is a joint venture between German-based Evonik and DSM of the Netherlands. (Courtesy Veramaris)
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

Blair – An investment in excess of $200 million is the latest example of bioscience innovation taking root in Nebraska – although there aren’t any literal roots to be seen in the venture.

Veramaris, a joint venture between German-based Evonik and DSM of the Netherlands, opened a state-of-the-art facility in Blair to produce omega-3 fatty acids for animal nutrition through the cultivation and fermentation of natural marine algae.

The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Wednesday with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Traditional omega-3 production has relied on oil obtained from live-caught fish. Veramaris’ process uses dextrose from Nebraska corn to feed algae, helping to meet the demand for omega-3 for the fish farming industry while conserving ocean biodiversity.

“Veramaris’ innovative production of omega-3 fatty acids from natural algae is a breakthrough in animal nutrition and a welcome addition to our ag community,” Ricketts said in a news release. “The company’s decision to do business in Nebraska is a testament to our state’s reputation as a great place for bioscience firms to invest and to grow.”

The company said its product provides a scalable and reliable source of two marine omega-3 fatty acids that promote health. It said the Blair facility is zero-waste and was completed ahead of schedule, on budget and with no accidents. It’s now ramping up the facility for full production.

Veramaris’ production capacity is equivalent to 1.2 million tons of wild-caught fish.

The company can meet about 15% of the entire salmon farming industry’s demand for the two omega-3 fatty acids, reducing pressure on marine wild-catch fisheries.

Ricketts attributed Nebraska’s success in the bioscience sector to many factors, including the state’s prolific output of agricultural commodities such as corn and soybeans. He also credited the Biotech Connector at the University of Nebraska’ Innovation Campus and the 2017 Bioscience Innovation Act as examples of how the state has encouraged the industry’s growth in Nebraska.

“Nebraska offers some of the best strategic business advantages in the country for bio industry firms and startups,” Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Dave Rippe said in a release. “It’s no surprise that our state is attracting the attention of some of the world’s most innovative companies, like Veramaris. Our goal moving forward is to keep nurturing that momentum to grow the economy and create incredible job and career opportunities for our people.”

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