EO Bioeconomy Theme:

Cross-Cutting Advances


The tremendous power of the bioeconomy can be felt across multiple sectors of the economy, including healthcare, agriculture, clean energy, materials, chemicals and beyond. In the past several years we’ve seen notable examples, such as: RNA vaccines against COVID-19 deployed in record time; genetically modified crops with increased resilience to environmental extremes; demonstration-scale plants that convert industrial waste gasses into useful chemicals and materials; and new industries being spawned that leverage advances in AI and protein design. To enable these and other applications across all sectors, the US needs to invest in tools, infrastructure, and policies that are foundational to all sectors of the bioeconomy, as well as a strong and diverse workforce.

Cross-Cutting Advances Logo

Merging foundational discoveries, innovations, and infrastructure to power the bioeconomy.

Innovation creates value. There is an urgent need for the research, development, deployment and supporting infrastructure and tools that will advance economic activity in all sectors of the bioeconomy.  The US Bioeconomy is currently valued at over $350B - but could grow substantially if properly supported. New research and development will help ensure continued growth of technical and economic leadership, progress in human health, mitigation of impacts of climate change, and a secure food supply.

To ensure a thriving, secure, and enduring bioeconomy, advances in several key areas are needed. For example, we must have a workforce capable of ensuring that innovations can be seamlessly converted into products and supportive solutions for the economy.  This workforce must be properly trained and educated, nimble enough to adapt to continuous platform advancement and process improvements, and assured of work environments that are supportive, safe, and resilient.  The bioeconomy also depends on new Investments in infrastructure to assist in transitioning lab-based research into biomanufacturing products.  Such infrastructure will need to include both physical and digital forms, enabling pilot testing, model development and evaluation, as well as scaling up of solutions for manufacturing processes.  Availability of data to inform a thorough risk assessment of new products will be critical to ensure responsible innovation, including informing regulators as new products are evaluated before bringing them to market.  While there is a need for open sharing of data and best practices to ensure a robust, collaborative, and effective community of biotechnology innovation, this information must also be protected and secured to protect against undesirable outcomes. Finally, there is a need to ensure investments and outcomes of the bioeconomy are communicated effectively to the nation at-large to maximize community benefit, adoption and support while minimizing concern and misunderstanding.

Call to Action

The CASA-Bio initiative was created to help implement the Bioeconomy Executive Order issued by the White House in September 2022. The EO laid out a vision for government-wide collaboration to advance biotechnology and biomanufacturing through foundational and use-inspired research in five thematic areas: climate change, food and agriculture, supply chain resilience, human health, and the cross-cutting advances. The goal of CASA-Bio is to bring the EO to life.

The first step in the CASA-Bio Action Plan was a set of so-called Alignment Meetings held in December 2023 in which representatives from government funding agencies, industries, and non-profits met and collaborated to identify scientific subthemes of shared interest—within each of the Bioeconomy Executive Order Themes--that we believe have high potential to advance the bioeconomy through innovative R&D. Now, it is time for step two. We invite you, the research community, to view these subthemes and consider how your research ideas could contribute. Your input will serve to help us define synergistic priority research areas that will be subjects of future research community workshops and development of road maps for addressing key challenges to advance the bioeconomy.

For scientists and engineers, the opportunities to contribute to this vital field are abundant. Whether your expertise is in basic discovery, tool development, scale up and advanced manufacturing, cyber, physical, and human infrastructure, public engagement, risk assessment and communication, or biosecurity, your research can have a profound impact. There is a growing need for interdisciplinary approaches that combine different areas of expertise to create holistic and effective solutions.

This is a call to action inviting the R&D community to contribute to a spectrum of subthemes essential for the bioeconomy's growth. This is an opportunity to be part of a paradigm shift, where your contributions not only advance scientific understanding but also drive tangible, impactful changes in our world. Each of the subthemes below represents an intersection of basic research and practical application, offering numerous avenues for innovation. Join this endeavor to shape a future where biotechnology bridges the gap between discovery and real-world solutions, creating a sustainable, healthier, and more prosperous global community.

Representative Subtheme Challenges:

Meeting the growing needs of the bioeconomy across all sections will require a diverse, skilled workforce spanning fundamental science to manufacturing.
Continued investments in foundational science and engineering research are needed to catalyze new breakthrough tools, technologies, and innovations to fuel the bioeconomy.
Traditional methods for engineering and manufacturing need to evolve to permit faster progression of foundational knowledge to bioproduct commercialization, e.g., lab to market.
New computational approaches are needed to integrate the vast multimodal biological datasets to enhance discovery, scalability, and sustainability of biotechnology science and engineering.
Unified and scalable data infrastructure is needed to leverage available data from multiple sources across different sectors to support application of new technologies for the bioeconomy.
Biotechnology-associated research and the resulting products need to be developed proactively to ensure best practices for security, safety, equity, accessibility, and sustainability.
To ensure societal acceptance and adoption of the products of biotechnology, there is an urgent need for effective communication of risks associated with biotechnological advancements.
To safeguard public health and the environment, research is needed to understand and preemptively address potential biosecurity risks in the bioeconomy.
Regulatory science research is needed to advance development of tools, standards, and approaches that support regulatory decision-making.
Return to top
CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Made by Knowinnovation