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Enabling commercial success of industrial biotechnology

In a December policy article for Science, Keith Tyo and several colleagues from around the country highlight some of the current systemic obstacles to the successful testing and implementation of biotechnology processes in the U.S.  The authors highlight three broad areas of difficulty.  In the Policy sector, the persistent undervaluation of sustainability as a relevant cost factor in the synthesis process helps to ensure that entrenched chemical processing methods remain more cost-effective; additionally, certain regulatory decisions hamper the initial translation of new biotechnology innovations to the industrial sector.  The latter issue is compounded by a lack of large scale testing and scale-up facilities in the U.S. that act as a bottleneck for new processes needing to be evaluated at scale in order to achieve industrial-scale funding.  Finally, the authors identify the recent shift away from engineering fundamentals in biochemical departments towards emerging fields and pure science research more directly rewarded through the funding and journal system as an obstacle to developing a workforce capable of fine-tuning a promising biochemical process for commercial deployment.  These factors, along with others mentioned in the piece, combine to ensure that the translation of academic discoveries to industrial process with large real-world impacts is rarer and more difficult than necessary.

Learn more about these issues, and their potential solutions, here.

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