National Academies Press: OpenBook

Safeguarding the Bioeconomy (2020)

Chapter: Part II: Understanding the Ecosystem and Identifying New Trends in the U.S. Bioeconomy

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Suggested Citation:"Part II: Understanding the Ecosystem and Identifying New Trends in the U.S. Bioeconomy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Safeguarding the Bioeconomy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25525.
Page 126

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Part II Understanding the Ecosystem and Identifying New Trends in the U.S. Bioeconomy Having articulated the committee’s definition for the U.S. bioeconomy and having compiled and analyzed the data available for assessing its value and its leadership position within the global bioeconomy, the report turns in Part II, to examining the ecosystem in which the U.S. bioeconomy operates and methods for horizon scanning that can be used to identify new technologies, markets, and data sources with potential to drive the bioeconomy’s future development. Chapter 5 begins by reviewing the overall U.S. system in which life sciences research is conducted and translated into innovative products and services. It covers the surrounding ecosystem—including regulatory and intellectual property regimes, investment sources, and workforce policies and structures—that fosters and supports the U.S. bioeconomy. This chapter serves as a basis for more in-depth discussions related to potential risks and associated policy gaps in subsequent chapters, recognizing that an understanding of the ecosystem is required for identifying potential risks. This chapter also explores a number of trends and innovations that are shaping and altering how the U.S. life sciences system functions. Chapter 6 examines the various methodologies for conducting horizon-scanning and foresight activities, with a focus on applying horizon scanning as a policy tool. This chapter directly addresses the final element of the committee’s statement of task by examining best practices in horizon scanning and foresight. It articulates the steps needed to identify key elements of the process, considers how to optimize a horizon scan, and examines past examples. This chapter also provides case studies related to the bioeconomy that can aid in identifying issues, examples of horizon scanning conducted by different government agencies, and examples focused on different application areas (e.g., health, food safety, and the environment). Finally, this chapter reviews tools for future thinking that can be used in conjunction with a horizon scan. These two chapters move the discussion forward by describing the dynamic system in which the U.S. bioeconomy operates and providing decision makers with a set of tools with which to anticipate and respond to changes and advances in the U.S. bioeconomy. 126 Prepublication Copy

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Research and innovation in the life sciences is driving rapid growth in agriculture, biomedical science, information science and computing, energy, and other sectors of the U.S. economy. This economic activity, conceptually referred to as the bioeconomy, presents many opportunities to create jobs, improve the quality of life, and continue to drive economic growth. While the United States has been a leader in advancements in the biological sciences, other countries are also actively investing in and expanding their capabilities in this area. Maintaining competitiveness in the bioeconomy is key to maintaining the economic health and security of the United States and other nations.

Safeguarding the Bioeconomy evaluates preexisting and potential approaches for assessing the value of the bioeconomy and identifies intangible assets not sufficiently captured or that are missing from U.S. assessments. This study considers strategies for safeguarding and sustaining the economic activity driven by research and innovation in the life sciences. It also presents ideas for horizon scanning mechanisms to identify new technologies, markets, and data sources that have the potential to drive future development of the bioeconomy.

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