SBPWG:Discussion/Practices Bootcamp/OSTP RFI

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The OSTP recently issued a [Request for Information] to "solicit input from all interested parties regarding recommendations for harnessing biological research innovations to meet national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment...". How would we equip up-and-coming leaders in syn bio to work towards being able to make informed recommendations to the following requests for input, and hopefully take steps towards implementing those reccomendations?

Grand Challenges

  • (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

  • (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?
  • (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)?
  • (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

  • (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.
  • (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?
  • (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?
  • (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

  • (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?
  • (10) What roles should community colleges play in training the bioeconomy workforce of the future?
  • (11) What role should the private sector play in training future bioeconomy scientists and engineers?
  • (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

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