Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (“OSTP”) issued a request for information (“RFI”) to learn how the Government can more effectively “support scientific discovery, the development of technological advances, and increase the impact of a vibrant bioeconomy on the Nation’s vitality and our citizens’ lives.” 84 Fed. Reg. 47561 (Sep. 10, 2019). The Bioeconomy is the “infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from biologically-related processes and science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit.” Id. To establish guiding principles to promote and protect the U.S. Bioeconomy, OSTP is seeking input from interested parties, including “those with capital investments, performing innovative research, or developing enabling platforms and applications in the field of biological sciences, to include healthcare, medicine, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, manufacturing, energy production, and agriculture.” Id. Of particular interest to government contractors, OSTP is seeking information regarding opportunities for public-private partnerships, infrastructure investments, and best practices for data sharing and data protection. Id. at 47562. Responses are due on or before 11:59 pm on October 22, 2019. We have included the specific topics on which OSTP seeks input below.
The RFI encourages responders, either as individuals or consortia, to respond to one or more of the questions below.
1. What specific actions could the U.S. Government take to reinforce a values-based ecosystem that will guide the transformation and expansion of the U.S. Bioeconomy, in both the short- and long-term? Please consider:
a. Policy or regulatory opportunities and gaps throughout the continuum of basic science translation, product development and commercialization;
b. Scientific areas where research funding could be strategically targeted to stimulate discovery;
c. Novel public-private partnership mechanisms;
d. International opportunities;
e. Challenges to taking identified actions or implementing change.
2. In what ways can the U.S. Government partner with the private sector, industry, professional organizations, and academia to ensure the training and continued development of a skilled workforce to support the growth of the Bioeconomy? Please consider:
a. Potential needs and solutions at the skilled technical, undergraduate, professional master’s program or graduate level;
b. Specific needs within basic science, translational research, product development, and commercialization;
c. Approaches for the development of non-traditional, multi-disciplinary educational backgrounds that address the convergent nature of emerging technologies and integrate core values including safety and security;
d. Effective geographic distribution of workforce and talent development across the United States;
e. The development of a public and private ecosystem that will attract and retain domestic and foreign talent within the United States at all skill levels.
3. In what ways can the U.S. Government partner with the private sector, industry, professional organizations, and academia to establish a more robust and efficient Bioeconomy infrastructure? Please consider:
a. Current infrastructure—from databases to world-class technology and manufacturing capabilities;
b. Geographic distribution of manufacturing capabilities compared to future manufacturing needs;
c. Leveraging existing public-private partnerships and identifying trusted information sharing mechanisms to accelerate innovation and facilitate fruitful, equitable domestic and international collaborations;
d. Institutional models for achieving translation of basic science discoveries to application and/or entry into the marketplace.
4. Across the spectrum, from basic discovery to practical application, what data policies, information-sharing mechanisms, and safeguards will be necessary for a prosperous U.S. Bioeconomy? Please consider:
a. Scientific, regulatory, manufacturing standards and/or benchmarks and/or best practices around data that should be developed to best accelerate Bioeconomy growth;
b. Possible safeguards for technology, data, and emergent products, such as patent/intellectual property protection, data quality and provenance validation, and privacy and security assurances.
In conclusion, providing input to OSTP at this stage could be an opportunity for stakeholders to have a meaningful impact on the principles guiding and protecting the U.S. Bioeconomy. Again, responses are due on or before 11:59 pm on October 22, 2019.