In FY2016, the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is supporting Agile Biomanufacturing to execute initial work to provide proof-of-concept for the Agile BioFoundry. Foundational efforts include industry engagement and visioning opportunities and a biological systems design project to demonstrate the capabilities required for the Agile BioFoundry. In the FY17 President’s Budget Request, EERE requested $35M for the Agile BioFoundry as a distributed consortium of nine DOE National Laboratories. The $35M request would establish the Agile BioFoundry and support complementary biological engineering efforts in industry and academia.
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Ames National Lab, Argonne National Lab, Idaho National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, the National Renewable Energy Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab, and Sandia National Labs are collaborating under Agile Biomanufacturing to execute the initial work that provides the foundation for the Agile BioFoundry. The Agile BioFoundry is expected to develop biological approaches for producing advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and materials that represent low greenhouse gas alternatives to products currently derived from petroleum. The DOE National Laboratories have state-of-the-art, complementary, and unique capabilities that are being brought to bear to build powerful infrastructure and scientific engineering activities to render design and implementation of new bio-based products scalable, predictable, and more cost-effective. The Agile BioFoundry will enable companies, National Labs, and academic institutions to develop biological processes efficiently and with reduced risk to create products with better performance than their predecessors.
In 2016, the National Labs are developing a vision for the Agile BioFoundry with input from a vast array of industry and federal government stakeholders. At a listening day on March 15, 2016, industry members identified shared pre-competitive research and development challenges, as well as best practices for industry-National Lab collaborations. Subsequently, the National Labs created a vision and proposed plan for the Agile BioFoundry. On June 14, 2016, industry and federal government stakeholders responded to the vision and plan with suggested improvements. The resultant vision and plan for the Agile BioFoundry describe the response strategy to address shared industry needs for development of biological engineering technologies that can help companies drive the bioeconomy.
In the vision document, the National Labs have developed a plan for establishing the Agile BioFoundry. The effort will focus on uniting tools, technologies, software, and instrumentation across the National Laboratory system for facile engineering of biology for production of fuels and chemicals from domestic, renewable biomass. The linchpin of this effort is developing databases and machine learning methods to enable better, automated bioprocess design with predictable performance and scaling. Based on the listening sessions and future industry input, the labs will develop industrially-relevant host microbes (bacteria, fungi, and algae) for robust production of commodity chemicals and biofuels. Because the effort is focused on challenges in the industrial chemicals and fuels sector, there will be no work on human or other mammalian cells or genomes.