[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 196 (Tuesday, October 11, 2011)]
[Pages 62869-62871]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-26088]



Request for Information: Building A 21st Century Bioeconomy

ACTION: Notice of Request for Information (RFI).


SUMMARY: The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is 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 while creating high-wage, 
high-skill jobs.
    The public input provided through this Notice will inform the 
Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as it works with Federal 
agencies and other stakeholders to develop a National Bioeconomy 

DATES: October 7, 2011--December 6, 2011.




    The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is 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 while creating high-wage, 
high-skill jobs.
    The public input provided through this Notice will inform the 
Office of Science and Technology Policy as it works with Federal 
agencies and other stakeholders to develop a National Bioeconomy 


    On September 16, 2011, 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. Biological research underpins the foundation of a 
significant portion of our economy. By better leveraging our national 
investments in biological research and development, the Administration 
will grow the jobs of the future and improve the lives of all 
    Twenty-first century advances in biological research and 
technologies are poised to return tremendous public benefits. For 
example, advances in human genome-informed personalized medicine and 
data analytics could be combined to improve human health in novel ways. 
In bio-based industry, biological design can create new opportunities 
for biofuels, chemicals, materials, and energy-efficient manufacturing 
    The National Bioeconomy Blueprint will identify strategies to meet 
grand challenges, promote commercialization and entrepreneurship, focus 
research and development investments in areas that will provide the 
foundation for the bioeconomy, expand workforce training to prepare the 
next generation of scientists and engineers for the bioeconomy jobs of 
the future, identify regulatory reforms that will reduce unnecessary 
burdens on innovators while protecting health and safety, and describe 
appropriate public-private partnerships to accelerate innovation in key 
    OSTP seeks comment on the questions listed below to inform the 
development of the National Bioeconomy Blueprint:
    Grand challenges: President Obama has identified ``grand 
challenges'' as an important element of his innovation strategy, such 
as ``smart anti-cancer therapeutics that kill cancer cells and leave 
their normal neighbors untouched; early detection of dozens of diseases 
from a saliva sample; personalized medicine that enables the 
prescription of the right dose of the right drug for the right person; 
a universal vaccine for influenza that will protect against all future 
strains; and regenerative medicine that can end the agonizing wait for 
an organ transplant.''
    (1) Identify one or more grand challenges for the bioeconomy in 
areas such as health, energy, the environment, and agriculture, and 
suggest concrete

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steps that would need to be taken by the Federal government, companies, 
non-profit organizations, foundations, and other stakeholders to 
achieve this goal.
    Research and development: R&D investments, particularly in platform 
technologies, can support advances in health, energy, the environment, 
and agriculture, and accelerate the pace of discovery in fundamental 
life sciences research.
    (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 \1\)?

    \1\ http://www.genome.gov/27541190

    (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: It is a 
challenge to commercialize advances in the life sciences because of the 
risk, expense, and need for many years of sustained investment. The 
Administration is interested in steps that it can take directly, but is 
also interested in encouraging experimentation with new private-sector-
led models for funding commercialization of life sciences research.
    (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 
\2\ would help accelerate commercialization of federally-funded 
bioeconomy-related research?

    \2\ http://www.sbir.gov/

    (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 
    Workforce development: Investment in education and training is 
essential to creating a technically-skilled 21st century American 
bioeconomy workforce.
    (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: As President Obama 
has stated, our regulatory system must ``identify and use the best, 
most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory 
ends'' and ``protect public health, welfare, safety, and our 
environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, 
competitiveness, and job creation.''
    (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 
    (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?
    Public-private partnerships: The Administration is interested in 
serving as a catalyst for public-private partnerships that build the 
bioeconomy and address important unmet needs in areas such as health, 
energy, agriculture, and environment.
    (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 
    (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 
pre-competitive collaboration both inside and outside the life-sciences 
sector? What are the barriers to such collaborations and how might they 
be removed or overcome?
    Response to this RFI is voluntary. Responders are free to address 
any or all the above items, as well as provide additional information 
that they think is relevant to the development of a National Bioeconomy 
    Please note that the Government will not pay for response 
preparation or for the use of any information contained in the 

How To Submit a Response

    All comments must be submitted electronically to: 
    Responses to this RFI will be accepted through December 6, 2011. 
You will receive an electronic confirmation acknowledging receipt of 
your response, but will not receive individualized feedback on any 
suggestions. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall 
arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from 
the Government's use of such information.
    Responses received after the deadline will be considered during 
implementation of the activities of the National Bioeconomy Blueprint 
if not received before finalization of the National Bioeconomy 
    Responses to the RFI, including the names of the authors and their 
institutional affiliations, will be posted at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/bioeconomy.


    Specific questions about this RFI should be directed to the 
following e-mail address: bioeconomy@ostp.gov.
    Form should include:

[Assigned ID ]

[[Page 62871]]

[Assigned Entry date]
City, State
Comment 1
Comment 2
Comment 3
Comment 4
Comment 5

Ted Wackler,
Deputy Chief of Staff.
[FR Doc. 2011-26088 Filed 10-7-11; 8:45 am]