National Academies Press: OpenBook

Safeguarding the Bioeconomy (2020)

Chapter: Part I: Defining and Measuring the U.S. Bioeconomy

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Suggested Citation:"Part I: Defining and Measuring 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 26

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Part I Defining and Measuring the U.S. Bioeconomy The first part of this report is focused on defining the U.S. bioeconomy; exploring the methods, data, and analysis needed to measure its value; and understanding how to determine the U.S. leadership position within the global bioeconomy. Chapter 2 examines the various conceptual approaches used around the world to understand and define the term “bioeconomy.” The committee characterizes the various bioeconomy definitions into three different visions: a biotechnology vision, a bioresource vision, and a bioecology vision. With this context, the chapter then refocuses on the committee’s new definition, a comprehensive and flexible one that allows for future developments, and uses it to articulate the bounds of the U.S. bioeconomy. This discussion directly addresses the element of the committee’s Statement of Task requesting that the committee “outline the landscape of the U.S. bioeconomy.” Chapter 3 undertakes a detailed discussion of how to measure the value of the U.S. bioeconomy, responding directly to the first two bullets of the Statement of Task. First, the chapter examines the characteristics of the bioeconomy that set it apart from other sectors. Then, the chapter considers approaches for both identifying intangible assets and determining the value of the U.S. bioeconomy, in accordance with the committee’s definition. This discussion culminates in a pilot valuation experiment that applies the valuation framework set forth in this chapter using the available data, while pointing out the data elements that are missing or difficult to parse out in a way that is specific to the bioeconomy. This discussion demonstrates a need for new data collection and analysis capabilities. Lastly, the chapter examines the trends and direction of the bioeconomy by analyzing national and private investments in research and development, as well as innovation outcomes from the bioeconomy. Chapter 4 then examines areas of U.S. leadership in the context of the global bioeconomy. To this end, the committee compares government investments, scientific output metrics, scientific training, and private innovation inputs. These four chapters set the foundation for the remainder of the report by articulating the scope, size, and value of the U.S. bioeconomy, while providing a rationale for how to determine those endpoints. 26 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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