Manufacturing & Technology

GEA to Open New Facility for Plant-Based and Cell-Cultured Food Production

GEA, a global supplier of technology and equipment for food manufacturers, has initiated the construction of a new technology center in Janesville, Wisconsin. The center, which is planned to open in 2025, will focus on alternative proteins and be designed to enhance the production capabilities of plant-based, microbial, and cell-based foods.

“It helps startups in the sector implement a business strategy that requires little upfront investment”

This facility will focus on the development of alternative solutions to traditional animal-derived products such as meat, dairy, seafood, and eggs. It aims to bridge the transition from laboratory-scale to full-scale commercial production by featuring pilot lines for cell cultivation and precision fermentation.

During the groundbreaking ceremony on May 8, 2024, Arpad Csay, the head of GEA’s new food activities in North America, stated, “The technology center will offer foodtech businesses a platform to develop and derisk their processes to ensure technological and commercial viability. It helps startups in the sector implement a business strategy that requires little upfront investment. This way, we help accelerate the development of market-ready products.”

GEA alternative protein center

Sustainability initiatives

One of the distinctive features of the new 1,200-square-meter facility is its commitment to sustainability. The center will operate entirely on renewable energy sources, eliminating the use of fossil fuels. Technologies such as heat pumps and electricity-powered systems will replace conventional natural gas usage in building technology and process equipment. Additionally, a ground-mounted photovoltaic system capable of generating 290 MWh annually will not only meet but exceed the building’s energy needs by at least 25%, with the excess power being redirected to the grid.

GEA’s approach aligns with its broader goal of achieving net-zero operations by 2040. The technology center will complement an existing facility in Janesville, broadening the local industrial base, with the potential to enhance the region’s appeal for further research collaborations and service-oriented projects.

Innovation supporting production efficiency

Just a few months ago, GEA unveiled a perfusion platform designed to improve the efficiency of cell cultivation and precision fermentation processes. This technology aims to enhance the productivity and cost-effectiveness of alternative protein production. GEA estimates that the platform could lead to a 10% reduction in bioreactor size, media consumption, and space requirements. These potential reductions could contribute to lowering the overall production costs of alternative proteins.

GEA plant-based foods

Education and community impact

The center will also function as an educational hub, aiming to cultivate a skilled workforce for the future of food technology. Collaborations with community colleges and universities are planned to foster knowledge in bioprocessing and the underlying science of alternative protein production.

Csay further elaborated on the educational aspect: “Novel food production methods are going to gain prominence in the coming decades. This development will require a diverse pool of skilled professionals from operators in the plants to bioprocessing engineers designing production systems and scientists pushing boundaries through research and development.

“Our technology center will help develop this future workforce by educating students and young professionals about the underlying biology and bioprocesses. We are excited to work with community colleges and universities to build these competencies in the region.”

Don't miss out!

The Cultivated X newsletter:
information for decision-makers

Regularly receive the most important news from the cultivated business world.

Invalid email address