SBPWG:Discussion/OSTP RFI Bioeconomy

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OSTP Request for Information on National Bioeconomy Blueprint

Background on the RFI

On September 16th, President Obama announced that his administration will develop a National Bioeconomy Blueprint detailing administration-wide steps to harness biological research innovations to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment. By better leveraging America’s national investments in biological research and development, the Administration aims to stimulate the growth of high-wage, high-skill jobs while improving the lives of all Americans.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a Request for Information to solicit input from all interested parties on how best to develop the National Bioeconomy Blueprint. Comments can be submitted electronically as an email attachment to by 11:59pm on December 6th, 2011.

SynBERC has encouraged every member of the synthetic biology community to submit their ideas to OSTP individually or in small groups. This is a unique opportunity to have your voice heard directly at the national level on issues that are of great importance to our community.

Wiki Purpose: Resources & Space for Collaborative Input

Members of the Practices Working Group have expressed interest in both submitting individual responses, and crafting a larger collective response. In order to help develop and refine our responses, we have created below spaces for collaborative developing and refining ideas and collecting relevant resources.

The seventeen specific requests for input outlined in the RFI are listed below.

Please add specific responses (most useful when in the form of complete but succinct ideas that we can pull together), comments and/or responses/feedback to others' ideas. Make sure attribute your contribution and list your name in the contributors section. Please include references where possible.

General references/resources should be added to the resources section.

Contact Megan ( if you have questions or need help using the wiki editing tools.


Please add your name here if you have contributed below

  • Megan Palmer (



  • Nov 26th: Last Day to Add Content to Wiki
  • Nov 27th: Meeting to Revise Letter
  • Nov 29th: Letter Draft Circulation for Comments and Edits
  • Dec 2nd: Edits Due
  • Dec 4th: Final Letter editing
  • Dec 6th: Responses Due

RFI Questions

Grand Challenges

Question 1

Identify one or more grand challenges for the bioeconomy in areas such as health, energy, the environment, and agriculture, and suggest concrete steps that would need to be taken by the Federal government, companies, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and other stakeholders to achieve this goal.

Research & Development

Question 2

Constrained Federal budgets require a focus on high-impact research and innovation opportunities. With this in mind, what should be the Federal funding priorities in research, technologies, and infrastructure to provide the foundation for the bioeconomy?

Question 3

What are the critical technical challenges that prevent high throughput approaches from accelerating bioeconomy-related research? What specific research priorities could address those challenges? Are there particular goals that the research community and industry could rally behind (e.g., NIH $1,000 genome initiative)?

Question 4

The speed of DNA sequencing has outstripped advances in the ability to extract information from genomes given the large number of genes of unknown function in genomes; as many as 70% of genes in a genome have poorly or unknown functions. All areas of scientific inquiry that utilize genome information could benefit from advances in this area. What new multidisciplinary funding efforts could revolutionize predictions of protein function for genes?

Moving Life Sciences Breakthroughs from Lab to Market

Question 5

What are the barriers preventing biological research discoveries from moving from the lab to commercial markets? What specific steps can Federal agencies take to address these shortcomings? Please specify whether these changes apply to academic labs, government labs, or both.

Question 6

What specific changes to Federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs would help accelerate commercialization of federally-funded bioeconomy-related research?

Question 7

What high-value data might the government release in the spirit of its open government agenda that could spur the development of new products and services in the bioeconomy?

Question 8

What are the challenges associated with existing private-sector models (e.g. venture funding) for financing entrepreneurial bioeconomy firms and what specific steps can agencies take to address those challenges?

Workforce development

Question 9

The majority of doctorate recipients will accept jobs outside of academia. What modifications should be made to professional training programs to better prepare scientists and engineers for private-sector bioeconomy jobs?

Question 10

What roles should community colleges play in training the bioeconomy workforce of the future?

Question 11

What role should the private sector play in training future bioeconomy scientists and engineers?

Question 12

What role might government, industry, and academia play in encouraging successful entrepreneurship by faculty, graduate students, and postdocs?

Reducing Regulatory Barriers to the Bioeconomy

Question 13

What specific regulations are unnecessarily slowing or preventing bioinnovation? Please cite evidence that the identified regulation(s) are a) slowing innovation, and b) could be reformed or streamlined while protecting public health, safety, and the environment.

Question 14

What specific steps can Federal agencies take to improve the predictability and transparency of the regulatory system? (Please specify the relevant agency.)

Question 15

What specific improvements in the regulatory processes for drugs, diagnostics, medical devices, and agricultural biotechnology should federal agencies implement? What challenges do new or emerging technologies pose to the existing regulatory structure and what can agencies do to address those challenges?

Question 16

What are the highest impact opportunities for public-private partnerships related to the bioeconomy? What shared goals would these partnerships pursue, which stakeholders might participate, and what mutually reinforcing commitments might they make to support the partnership?

Question 17

What are the highest impact opportunities for pre-competitive collaboration in the life sciences, and what role should the government play in developing them? What can be learned from existing models for precompetitive collaboration both inside and outside the life-sciences sector? What are the barriers to such collaborations and how might they be removed or overcome?