The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.


 

On March 13, 2015, the National Academies issued Industrialization Of Biology: A Roadmap To Accelerate The Advanced Manufacturing Of Chemicals, a 143-page report prepared in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to "develop a roadmap of necessary advances in basic science and engineering capabilities, including knowledge, tools and skills" to accelerate the advanced manufacturing of chemicals using biological systems. Thirteen committee members with expertise in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, molecular biology, microbiology, systems biology, synthetic chemistry, chemical engineering, bioinformatics, systems integration, metrology, chemical manufacturing, and law and bioethics worked together with researchers to create a technical roadmap for the future of the biochemicals industry. The report, with chapters including "Industrial Biotechnology: Past and Present," "Vision of the Future: What New Chemicals Could Be Made?," and "How Do We Get There?," examines the regulatory and societal factors limiting the adoption of bioprocessing in the chemical industry today and makes recommendations for EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies responsible for governance of existing and emerging biobased chemicals. A prepublication version of the report is available now, with a final publication date to be announced.

 

 

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) is inviting applications for its third Exemplar Program project competition for industry-led collaborative research projects using innovative applications in biotechnology. IBioIC is requesting applications from projects with a total value of up to £250,000 that demonstrate a defined market need and commercial opportunity. Deadline for applications is March 26, 2015.

 

 

On January 27, 2015, BASF left the research and development (R&D) collaboration with Novozymes and Cargill that it had joined in 2012. Novozymes and Cargill have worked to develop a process to produce biobased 3-hydroxypropionic (3-HP) and acrylic acid from renewable materials since 2008. In BASF's absence, the two remaining companies are looking for a third partner for the project. The R&D project has already produced 3-HP in pilot scale and converted 3-HP to glacial acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers. The goal is now to commercialize 3-HP to biobased chemicals in order to bring customers sustainable alternatives to petroleum based chemicals.

 
Tags: research, 3-HP

 

 

On December 4, 2014, the S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will provide up to $7 million for two bioenergy projects that aim to reduce the cost of delivering biomass feedstocks to biorefineries. The College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York administers one of the projects and focuses on reducing the cost of woody crops while improving harvest and preprocessing operations to meet biorefinery specifications. The second project, out of the University of Tennessee, will develop a biomass processing depot that blends multiple biomass sources in order to reduce variation in biomass used by biorefineries. This study could lead to increased feedstock availability due to blending of the different biomass sources.

 

 

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) supports researchers and companies working on large-scale multidisciplinary research projects in areas of importance to Canadians. As part of this program, NSERC is providing the University of Toronto with $5 million to help launch the Industrial Biocatalysis Network, which will research novel uses of enzymes to produce chemicals, plastics, and other products. This program will be run in collaboration with Concordia University and the University of British Columbia and will support the growth of the biobased chemical and materials sector in Canada.

 

 

On December 2, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced over $9 million in grants to support advanced biofuel production and the bioeconomy. More than $5 million in grants awarded to 220 producers nationwide are provided through USDA's Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Other awards were from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, the Sun Grant Program, and the Critical Agricultural Materials Program. Recipients of these awards include the National Biodiesel Board, South Dakota State University, and Iowa Sate University.

 
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On November 12, 2014, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy held a press conference to announce the recipients of the Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards. In her comments, Administrator McCarthy stated that "a strong, world-leading economy requires a clean environment," and noted that under the Obama Administration the production of wind energy has tripled, and solar energy has increased ten-fold. Joining Ms. McCarthy at the press conference were representatives from two of the nine companies receiving funding awards, Thomas Brooks of National Recovery Technologies, LLC (Nashville, TN), which is developing a technology that allows for the automated identification and sorting of rare earth elements in electronic waste (e-waste) recycling streams; Carol Ann Wedding of Imaging Systems Technology (Toledo, OH), which is developing Ultraviolet (UV) Plasma-shells with Titanium (IV) Dioxide (TiO2) to produce a low cost, rugged, lightweight, and highly efficient water purification system; and David Levine of the American Sustainable Business Council. In his comments, Mr. Levine noted that these grants from EPA catalyze new technologies, new applications, and new jobs, helping to scale innovation effectively and reduce the costs of technology.


Ms. McCarthy fielded several questions from reporters regarding the U.S. climate accord with China announced November 12, 2014. She stated "I think the targets are ambitious but achievable," and used the opportunity to re-iterate the goals and achievements of the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan. When asked whether President Obama would veto any legislation coming from the newly Republican-controlled congress targeting the Clean Air or Clean Water Acts, Ms. MacCarthy stated she was confident of the President's support and that EPA would be able to explain to legislators and the public that "a healthy environment is not just good for our kids but for our businesses."


The SBIR program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Grants are made via 11 federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and EPA. SBIR funding award solicitations are ongoing and small biobased companies are urged to apply. See the story below under the DOE heading for one current solicitation.
 


 

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Rosalind Franklin Society will present the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology to Dr. Debbie Yaver at the 2014 BIO Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy's "Women in Biotechnology Reception," sponsored by BRAG. Dr. Yaver has studied the role of the vacuolar ATPase in protein sorting, as well as gene expression technology in bacterial and fungal systems. She is now researching engineering microbial strains to produce enzymes, proteins, and molecules, while also working with genomics and bioinformatics.


 
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