Brent Erickson

15 Years of Progress and Next Steps

For those who may not be familiar with the organization, BIO is the world's largest biotechnology trade association. It represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotech centers, and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other countries. BIO members research and develop innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products. The organization is divided into four sections to address the policy priorities of health, food and agriculture, industrial, and emerging biotech companies.

When BIO's Industrial & Environmental Section started back in 1997, there were only a handful of members and several were focused on bioremediation not industrial biotech. Today, the membership of BIO's Industrial & Environmental Section is approaching 100 companies (Figure 1). This has been the fastest growing section of BIO's membership over the past 10 years, reflecting growth in the biobased economy. Through the application of industrial biotechnology, BIO members are improving conventional biofuels, producing advanced and cellulosic biofuels, generating renewable chemicals, and speeding development of new purpose-grown energy crops. Their efforts build the bioeconomy-–an economy that enables improved living standards around the world and at the same time replaces non-renewable, petroleum-based materials with cleaner, greener biobased materials.

Figure 1. Membership in BIO 2002–2014.

BIO's Industrial & Environmental Section brings together the entire value chain of renewable chemical and biofuel production (Figure 2). Over the years it has grown to include dedicated energy crop developers, core technology providers, biofuel and renewable chemical producers, and consumer product manufacturers. The members are united by the shared vision of building the bioeconomy with its nexus in the integrated biorefinery.

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Figure 2. The bioeconomy value chain.

Brent Erickson is Executive Vice President, Industrial & Environmental Section, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Washington, DC, and Consulting Editor, Industrial Biotechnology.

Industrial Biotechnology, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is the authoritative, peer-reviewed bimonthly research journal focused on biobased industrial and environmental products and processes. The above article was first published in the May 2015 issue of Industrial Biotechnology with the title “The Biobased Economy at a Crossroads: 15 Years of Progress and Next Steps”. The views expressed here are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of Industrial Biotechnology, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, or their affiliates. No endorsement of any entity or technology is implied.

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