On April 26, the Obama administration released its outline the future of the U.S. biological research enterprise, the National Bioeconomy Blueprint. The “bioeconomy” is defined as the “economic activity that is fueled by research and innovation in the biological sciences,” and the blueprint outlines a plan for government and private agencies that will strengthen these activities and spur economic growth.
In January the Office of Science Technology Policy released a request for information asking research stakeholders to provide recommendations on how to best harness the full potential of the U.S. bioeconomy. The OSTP RFI resulted in 135 submissions from individuals, universities and professional societies, including ASBMB. The primary recommendation from ASBMB was for continued federal support for basic research, since most, if not all, translational discoveries have their foundation in research that focused fundamental questions.
The blueprint outlines five broad objectives that address the future of the health, energy, agriculture, environmental enterprises in the U.S.
- Support R&D investments that will provide the foundation for the future bioeconomy.
- Facilitate the transition of bioinventions from lab to market, including an increased focus on translational and regulatory sciences.
- Develop and reform regulations to reduce barriers, increase the speed and predictability of regulatory processes, and reduce costs while protecting human and environmental health.
- Update training programs and align academic institution incentives with student training for national work-force needs.
- Identify and support opportunities for the development of public-private partnerships and precompetitive collaborations—where competitors pool resources, knowledge and expertise to learn from successes and failures.
A major goal of the blueprint is to increase collaborations between different federal agencies and between federal and private agencies to maximize the potential of the resources and discoveries within these individual entities.
Several federal departments and agencies also released their initiatives to enact the goals outlined in the Bioeconomy Blueprint. The Center for Regenerative Medicine and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health were highlighted as new efforts to strengthen the U.S. bioeconomy.