The Whitehouse's Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Revolution

  • Published on July 31, 2023

Last month, the Whitehouse issued a report committing to take significant steps to drive biotechnology and biomanufacturing in the US. This poses a tremendous opportunity for the alt protein industry. Read our summary of the report below, or read the full report here.

Summary of "Building the Bioworkforce of the Future: Expanding Equitable Pathways into Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Jobs"

The global industry is standing at the brink of a transformative revolution, driven by the remarkable potential of biotechnology and biomanufacturing. With the power of these cutting-edge technologies, we can now produce a wide array of products that impact our daily lives, from essential medicines to eco-friendly plastics and fuels. Moreover, biomanufacturing allows us to program microorganisms to create specialty chemicals and compounds, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating climate change. Additionally, this revolutionary combination of biotechnology and biomanufacturing offers solutions to develop more resource-efficient crops and animal varieties. The possibilities seem boundless, and the United States is at the forefront of this burgeoning "bioeconomy."

The US Leadership in the Bioeconomy

The United States holds a prominent position in the rapidly growing bioeconomy, and the government is taking significant steps to maintain its leadership. Under the President's Investing in America agenda, several key laws and initiatives have been introduced to bolster the nation's position in the bioeconomy. Private companies have already committed $470 billion in manufacturing and clean energy investments, with a focus on biomanufacturing. However, to remain competitive, the US must act decisively as other countries are positioning themselves to lead the world in biotechnology solutions and biobased products.

The National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative

To address this challenge, President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O. 14081) in September 2022, officially launching the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative. The primary goal of this initiative is to ensure that revolutionary biotechnological products invented in the US are also manufactured in the US. This strategic approach aims to create job opportunities domestically, enhance supply chains, and lower costs for American families.

Building a Skilled and Diverse Bioworkforce

To fully realize the potential of the bioeconomy and the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, a skilled and diverse workforce is critical. Studies and consultations have shown consistent growth in the bioeconomy and increasing demand for various bioeconomy occupations that require a wide range of skills and post-secondary credentials, many of which do not necessitate a traditional four-year college degree. Additionally, it is essential to remove barriers for underrepresented groups, ensuring they have equal opportunities to prepare for, secure, and advance in biotechnology and biomanufacturing careers.

The Plan for Expanding Education and Training Opportunities

To address these challenges, an interagency working group consisting of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Domestic Policy Council (DPC), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Labor (DOL), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) has developed a comprehensive plan for expanding education and training opportunities in biotechnology and biomanufacturing. This plan, known as the "bioworkforce" plan, aims to achieve the following goals:

  1. Meet Rapidly Changing Skill Needs: Ensure that US education and training programs can keep up with the evolving demands of the bioeconomy and its workforce.
  2. Promote Diversity in the Bioworkforce: Create a diverse pipeline of workers, including women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, justice-involved individuals, and others underrepresented in emerging fields.
  3. Advance Equity through Evidence-Based Approaches: Direct federal resources toward evidence-based education and training approaches that promote equity.

Core Recommendations

The plan presents core recommendations to achieve its goals, with collaboration among various stakeholders being essential. The recommendations include:

  1. Expand and Diversify the Talent Pool: Promote innovation and equity by increasing the talent pool for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers.
  2. Strengthen Worker-Centered Partnerships: Foster collaborations between employers, labor organizations, community colleges, and other training providers to diversify the bioworkforce.
  3. Promote Innovative Education and Training Approaches: Develop and evaluate innovative approaches to education and training for biotechnology and biomanufacturing careers, scaling up successful models.
  4. Raise Awareness about Bioworkforce Careers: Work with stakeholders to raise awareness about the promising careers in the bioeconomy.
  5. Improve Data and Analytic Capacity: Enhance data and analytics to support effective workforce development, including the development of industry-recognized credentials and competency models.

This plan presents tremendous opportunity for the alternative protein industry. By developing a skilled and diverse bioworkforce, fostering innovation, strengthening supply chains, promoting sustainable practices, and achieving global leadership, the initiative will create a conducive environment for the alternative protein sector to thrive. This will lead to improved production processes, enhanced access to innovative products, and increased competitiveness, ensuring a brighter and more sustainable future for the alternative protein industry and consumers alike.