GEA has begun construction on its technology center for alternative proteins in Janesville, Wisc.

Scheduled to open in 2025, the center will scale up the production of novel plant-based, microbial and cell-based foods. GEA aims to support manufacturers in meeting the demand for complementary proteins and ingredients to traditional animal-based products.

“This investment underscores our commitment to innovation and sustainability in the food industry,” says Arpad Csay, who leads GEA’s new food activities in North America.

The technology center will house pilot lines for cell cultivation and precision fermentation, bridging the gap between benchtop and commercial production of alternative proteins.

“The technology center will offer foodtech businesses a platform to develop and derisk their processes to ensure technological and commercial viability,” Csay says. “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.”

All of the energy needed for the 1,200-square-meter building will be obtained from renewable sources. For instance, heat pumps and systems powered by electricity will replace the natural gas conventionally used for building technology and process equipment. A ground-mounted photovoltaic system is expected to generate 290 MWh of electricity per year, exceeding the energy requirement by at least a quarter. The surplus energy will be fed into the grid. This photovoltaic system is expandable, so that green energy can continue to be generated when process demands increase in the future. This setup underscores GEA’s strategy to become a net-zero operation by 2040.