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White House Seeks Ideas for National Bioeconomy Blueprint

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Obama Administration is asking the biomedical and biotech industries and research communities for their ideas about what steps the country should take to support and advance biological research innovation and business.

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy wants interested parties to provide comments on ways to address new challenges and opportunities related to biological research innovations, including genomics and high-throughput technologies, as it develops its National Bioeconomy Blueprint.

To fire up the project, OSTP last week issued a request for information detailing the set of "grand challenges" and other policy issues it wants the Bioeconomy Blueprint to address. It will receive comments until early December.

The blueprint program seeks to identify strategies for meeting grand challenges, promoting commercialization and entrepreneurship, focusing R&D investments, and identifying reforms to reduce the burdens of regulations on biotechnology and biomedical companies. It also aims to expand workforce training to prepare scientists, engineers, and others for bio-based careers, and will propose ways that public-private partnerships can be used to speed up innovation in important areas.

“Once unveiled, the National Bioeconomy Blueprint can leverage investments across the country in biotechnology research and development to create jobs and spur biological innovation on a grand scale," Biotechnology Industry Organization President and CEO Jim Greenwood said in a recent statement. "This effort will help preserve US leadership in cutting-edge research and technology and maintain our nation’s competitiveness in an increasingly global marketplace."

The grand challenges OSTP has identified – it also is asking for other proposed challenges – put an emphasis on personalized medicine and technological innovations linked to the reduced cost and speed of DNA sequencing.

OSTP also asked for information about the "critical technical challenges that prevent high-throughput approaches from accelerating bioeconomy related research," and about research priorities that should address those challenges.

OSTP also has asked if there are particular goals or efforts that both the research community and industry should rally behind, such as the $1,000 genome project.

Another prong of the project aims to find things that the Administration can do to help move life sciences breakthroughs toward the market, and it seeks to encourage new private-sector models for commercializing innovations. To that end, OSTP has asked what barriers keep new discoveries out of the marketplace, and what federal agencies could do to help.

The administration also wants to know if it should make changes to the Small Business Innovation Research programs, and is seeking input on what kinds of data the government could release to spur innovation, and if there is anything it can do to help increase venture funding in the bioeconomy.

In addition, OSTP wants comments regarding specific regulations that are "slowing or preventing bioinnovation," specific steps the federal government can take to improve predictability and transparency in the regulatory system, and improvements in the regulatory processes covering drugs, diagnostics, medical devices, and agricultural biotech technologies. It also is seeking ideas about how it should invest in education and training in bio-related fields, and what roles the private sector and government should play in training new scientists and engineers.

Lastly, the Obama Administration is interested in finding ways to catalyze public-private partnerships to build up the bioeconomy and to meet needs in areas such as health, agriculture, and the environment. Specifically, OSTP wants to hear comments on high-impact opportunities and shared goals for such partnerships and what can be learned from the partnership models that already exist.

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