The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The government rolled out its “National Bioeconomy Blueprint” on Thursday, the intent being to help grow the the U.S. biotech industry. And the document is most likely must reading across the Triangle, which is the nation’s third largest biotech cluster.
The five key points in the Obama Administration plan:
- Support R&D investments that will provide the foundation for the future bioeconomy.
- Facilitate the transition of bioinventions from research lab to market, including an increased focus on translational and regulatory sciences.
- Develop and reform regulations to reduce barriers, increase the speed and predictability of regulatory processes, and reduce costs while protecting human and environmental health.
- Update training programs and align academic institution incentives with student training for national workforce needs.
- Identify and support opportunities for the development of public-private partnerships and precompetitive collaborations—where competitors pool resources, knowledge, and expertise to learn from successes and failures.
“A more robust bioeconomy can enable Americans to live longer and healthier lives, develop new sources of bioenergy, address key environmental challenges, transform manufacturing processes, and increase the productivity and scope of the agricultural sector while generating new industries and occupational opportunities,” wrote Mary Maxon and Elizabeth Robinson in a White House blog. (Maxon is assistant director for Biological Research and Elizabeth Robinson is a student volunteer.)
Reaction came quickly from the national BIO organization.
“The report’s high-level goals are consistent with many of BIO’s primary goals, including supporting translational research, reducing regulatory barriers for biotech products and emerging technologies, improving coordination across federal agencies, reforming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and expanding the bioeconomy workforce,” said Jim Greenwood, the head of the Bio Industry Organization. “We look forward to hearing more about specific proposals for accomplishing these goals.”
“More specific proposals.” – the devil’s in the details, right?
“The biotech sector directly employs 1.42 million workers and supports an additional 6.6 million jobs nationwide,” Greenwood noted. “With the administration’s support, and by reducing red tape, paperwork and unnecessary delays, the biotech sector can expand its role as an economic engine for growth – creating high-wage, high-skilled jobs that offer the most promise to cure disease, feed the hungry, create a healthier environment and develop cleaner fuels that lessen our reliance on foreign oil.”
North Carolina relies heavily on the biotech sector with some 226,000 jobs and $64 billion in annual revenue linked to it, according to the N.C. Biotechnology Center.
State and industry leaders can only hope that this blueprint proves to much more than just some bureaucratic brainstorming.
Read more about the plan here.
And check out the full blueprint here.