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December 29, 2023

OSTP Publishes Report on Vision, Needs, and Proposed Actions for Data for the Bioeconomy Initiative

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published on December 20, 2023, a report on Vision, Needs, and Proposed Actions for Data for the Bioeconomy Initiative. As reported in our September 13, 2022, blog item, on September 12, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order creating a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative that establishes a Data for the Bioeconomy Initiative (Data Initiative) to ensure that biotechnology developers have streamlined access to high-quality, secure, and wide-ranging biological data sets that can drive solutions to urgent societal and global problems. Prepared by the Interagency Working Group on Data for the Bioeconomy of the National Science and Technology Council, the report lays the groundwork for the Data Initiative. It describes the existing federal data infrastructure, data gaps, and data and computational infrastructure needs and highlights needed strategic investments in building and maintaining a robust data infrastructure to serve as the foundation for the Data Initiative. The report also outlines a vision for transformative outcomes across the sectors of the bioeconomy, including health, agriculture, the environment, and biomanufacturing. The Data Initiative identifies strategic investments and opportunities to leverage and build upon existing resources. According to the report, “[t]he goal is to create an interwoven data fabric that connects data with the infrastructure and computational resources necessary to analyze, synthesize, and use those data for the widest audience.” The report states that this vision depends on creation and adoption of community-driven standards, both for data and for repositories to enable interoperability and integration; training and education to build the bioeconomy data workforce of tomorrow; efforts to limit and mitigate security risks; and ongoing coordination to ensure efforts keep pace with transformations in data science, computing, biotechnology, and biomanufacturing. The report notes that while additional data are needed, government coordination and investment in infrastructure are also needed to make best use of the existing and anticipated data.

The report states that the Data Initiative requires “consistent whole-of-government coordination and investments” in the following seven Core Actions:

  1. Dedicated long-term funding mechanisms for data and computational resources and infrastructure;
  2. Standards to establish common best practices that foster and strengthen a shared U.S. bioeconomy data ecosystem;
  3. Biodata Catalog to identify extant data and metadata;
  4. Security practices and policies that secure the data landscape while supporting innovation;
  5. Workforce to drive U.S. leadership in the bioeconomy of the future;
  6. Strategically Targeted Areas for Rapid Transformation (START) to determine viability and impact and chart a course for larger investments; and
  7. Coordination of intergovernmental investments, efforts, and resources.

According to the report, data accessibility will determine the success of the U.S. bioeconomy. The activities and investments proposed in the report “provide a clear path to fill acute gaps and are designed to secure the position of the United States as a leader in biotechnology and biomanufacturing, helping the nation achieve the Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing.” More information on these goals is available in our April 3, 2023, blog item.