By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 13, 2019, the University of Manchester was awarded £10 million by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), an organization sponsored by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to foster research and innovation. These funds are to be used in the launching of a country-wide biomanufacturing research hub to lead the way in new medicines and sustainable energy solutions. To be led by Professor Niguel Scrutton, the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub (FBRH) will focus on the development of biotechnologies in three sectors: pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and engineering materials. Professor Scrutton stated: “With the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), the University already has one of Europe’s leading industry-interfaced institutes, with world-leading capabilities in bio-based chemicals synthesis and manufacture. Now, with the addition of the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub, it will take it to an even higher level.” Part of a £30 million government investment into the UK’s research and manufacturing sector, the funding comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). FBRH intends to bring together 67 partners from industry, public sector, and universities to revolutionize industrial biotechnology.
On July 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a notice in the Federal Register soliciting applications for Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (the Program) funding. The Program provides guaranteed loans for projects developing, constructing, or retrofitting commercial scale biorefineries and biobased product manufacturing facilities. The developments must use eligible technology, including new commercial scale processing and manufacturing equipment. There are two application cycles for this notice, with the first application cycle closing on October 3, 2016, at 4:30 pm (EDT), and the second cycle closing on April 3, 2017, at 4:30 pm (EDT).
On February 26, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the upcoming Agile Biomanufacturing Industry Listening Workshop that is being held by nine national laboratories to increase understanding of industry needs around synthetic biology. The national laboratories are working to create an agile biomanufacturing platform using synthetic biology tools to quickly engineer biofuels and biochemical in response to industry demands. A successful platform will help organizations to develop biological processes to create biobased products, while reducing associated risks. The workshop is occurring on March 15, 2016, in Berkeley, California from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Those wishing to attend should register online by March 4, 2016.
On October 27, 2014, President Obama announced new plans to strengthen the manufacturing sector. One of the listed plans involved the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) coming together to invest in advanced materials, advanced sensors, and digital manufacturing. These three areas were determined to be critical to U.S. competitiveness and include biobased materials in the advanced materials category. Over $300 million is going to be invested across the three categories and the research investments by the federal government are expected to be matched by efforts in the private sector. More information about the announcement can be found in the statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary.
On September 15, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2996, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act. The Act "earmarks up to $300 million in federal funding -- $30 million annually for 10 years" from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account, and would be available to regional centers to develop new products and train workforces. Fields mentioned in the bill as eligible for the money include "nanotechnology, advanced ceramics, photonics and optics, composites, biobased and advanced materials, flexible hybrid technologies and tool development for microelectronics." The RAMI Act has a companion bill in the Senate where it could be voted on as early as this fall. More information on the RAMI Act is available online. The full text of the RAMI Act can be found online.
On June 27, 2014, Valent BioSciences (Valent) Corporation announced that it held a ceremony to mark the opening of its new $146 million biobased manufacturing facility in Osage, Iowa. A copy of Valent's press release is available online.
On February 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced that up to $12 million in funding would be made available to advance the production of cost-competitive, high-performance carbon finer material from renewable non-food based feedstocks. Feedstocks could include agriculture residues and woody biomass. This funding supports DOE's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. A copy of DOE's press release on this announcement is available online.
On November 12, 2013, 17 "green groups," including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters, sent a letter to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance urging the extension of several tax incentives designed to promote investment in the development of clean energy. For instance, the letter urges the extension of the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which provides an investment tax credit of up to 30 percent of qualified investment in a qualifying advanced energy project, which is defined to be a project that establishes, expands, or re-equips a manufacturing facility for the production of certain types of property, including property designed to refine or blend renewable fuels or to produce energy conservation technologies.
Several tax incentives designed to help encourage renewable energy production are set to expire at the end of the year.