Dr. Berni del Campo
Scientist and biorenewables entrepreneur Berni del Campo found all the ingredients for success in Iowa.
Berni’s university in Uruguay was hosting a summit on biofuels, and as he watched a demonstration of a biodiesel-powered tractor, he found the scene to be almost poetic in nature: a tractor harvesting the same plant that would later power it.
It was a complex opportunity whose intricacies he couldn’t wait to solve. “I didn’t understand why technologies with so many economic and environmental advantages were not implemented on a larger scale,” Berni says. “It got me thinking that there are alternatives which could turn waste materials into solutions.”
“Things will happen here you never thought possible.”
He began studying biodigestors, exploring the relationships between bioproducts, economic viability, and environmental and social impact. A farmer by trade, Berni came to central Iowa in 2006 after landing an internship at Pioneer Hybrid. While pursuing a PhD at Iowa State University, he found access to tools, resources, friends, collaborators and experts that helped him launch Advanced Renewable Technology International (ARTi), which manufactures biochar, a biomass-based soil additive and water filtration medium.
ARTi is now self-sustaining and production is ramping up thanks to curious universities, companies and farmers that are experimenting with its product. For Berni, it’s a dream come true – and he attributes it in part to being in the Cultivation Corridor. “There are so many people here that are willing to help. There is real, symbiotic collaboration in the Corridor, and its well within reach for other entrepreneurs,” he says. “Because of this, things will happen here you never thought possible.”