U.S. Department of Defense awards $87.5 million to BioMADE establishing the Bioindustrial Manufacturing Innovation Institute
EMERYVILLE, Calif. – The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a Cooperative Agreement to establish the Bioindustrial Manufacturing And Design Ecosystem, or BioMADE. Established by the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC), BioMADE joins eight DoD-sponsored Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MII) as part of the Manufacturing USA network and becomes the 16th institute creating an end-to-end ecosystems for domestic manufacturing to secure America’s future through manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration. The 7-year award includes $87.5M in federal funds and is being matched by more than $180M from non-federal sources.
“The Department of Defense is committed to promoting U.S. biotechnology innovation and securing America’s bioindustrial base. Through today’s award, we are pleased to work with new partners to accelerate the Department’s biotechnology modernization and the development of this field which is so critical to our Nation’s future security and prosperity,” said Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
For over a century, America has used biology to manufacture products like fuels and solvents. In recent decades, products such as lactic acid have led to the development of renewable plastics not dependent on crude oil. Today, a vast array of renewable products produced by the latest advances in engineering biology are entering nearly every sector of the economy.
“Bridging the gap between lab-scale research and at-scale manufacturing, BioMADE builds an on-ramp to accelerate commercialization of biotechnology inventions originating from American R&D in universities, start-ups, and National Labs. I am grateful to the proposal team of more than 30 companies, 33 universities, 24 community colleges, and 6 nonprofits across 31 states that worked with us to develop a winning proposal” says Douglas Friedman, Executive Director of EBRC and CEO of BioMADE.
Modern biotechnology benefits from a rapid convergence of technologies which historically have not worked in concert. Specifically, biomanufacturing materials at scale with biology requires complex coordination of automation, computational sciences, process engineering, and materials sciences in an environment that promotes safe and equitable deployment of technologies. BioMADE will marshal insights from manufacturers and innovators advancing bioindustrial manufacturing technologies while simultaneously enhancing the structure of this young but robust innovation ecosystem.
Minnesota-based Cargill was an active participant in BioMADE’s development and looks forward to bringing its longstanding biomanufacturing capabilities to the institute. “We are excited that the Department of Defense has selected BioMADE to establish the Bioindustrial Manufacturing Innovation Institute.” says Florian Schattenmann, CTO of Cargill. “We are excited to work with BioMADE and the rest of the industry to identify and innovate on shared challenges in scaleup and downstream processing to further strengthen the US economy in the production of bioindustrial products.”
BioMADE is poised to be headquartered on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, a top ten U.S. public research university and a leader in chemical engineering, materials science, genomics, computational biology, and high-performance computing.
“We are honored to host BioMADE and believe that this institute will advance a new and significant biomanufacturing innovation ecosystem,” said University President Joan T.A. Gabel. “Our region–the Bold North–is home to 16 Fortune 500 companies and a highly sought-after educated workforce. We anticipate many future industrial biomanufacturing firms being created here, taking advantage of proximity to the agricultural raw materials needed for their production, the depth of talent we offer, and the business infrastructure that already serves related firms like Cargill, General Mills, CHS, and Land O’Lakes.”
Slated to join the University’s soon-to-be-constructed Microbial Cell Production Facility (MCPF), BioMADE’s internal efforts will focus on scale-up and downstream processing of laboratory R&D to commercial production. Working seamlessly with satellite offices in Berkeley, CA and Cambridge, MA, and with partners across the country, BioMADE will focus on catalyzing the creation of a secure domestic supply chain of bioindustrial products.
Zach Serber, CSO and co-founder of Zymergen – a Bay Area science and materials innovation company – says, “Zymergen is thrilled to work with BioMADE to identify industry needs and advance technologies and programs that will help the entire bio economy by bringing innovative, high performance and sustainable products to market faster. The BioMADE team fills an important role in this emerging category; providing proof-of-concept manufacturing capacity and helping develop key capabilities in the manufacturing workforce, both of which are critical to strengthening U.S. competitiveness. We are proud to be a part of this initiative and look forward to working with other partner organizations.”
In addition to its focus on technical innovation, education and workforce development are central to BioMADE’s mission to train and ready a robust domestic workforce for manufacturing jobs across the industry. Collaborating with a national network of biotechnology focussed training institutions and organizations, BioMADE will reach across the educational spectrum and across the country to expand biotechnology training to include biomanufacturing.
A commitment to incorporating ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) will be part of the fabric of BioMADE. All technical, educational, workforce, and community projects will include effort dedicated to relevant ELSI topics. Members will have access to experts in bioethics, biosecurity, biosafety, and other ELSI topics while dedicated ELSI advisors will work alongside BioMADE’s technical and workforce leadership.
“We at EBRC could not have led this team without the critical insights and involvement of our partner institutions, and their commitment to the vision of a thriving public-private solution to advance domestic biomanufacturing,” said Friedman. “Turning to the future, we look forward to an inclusive and comprehensive ecosystem of institutions across the country, unified with the goal of advancing US biomanufacturing capabilities, creating products that are as high performing as they are environmentally sustainable.”