DOD Awards $87 Million to nonprofit BioMADE to Advance Bio-Industrial Manufacturing

October 20, 2020

On October 20, the Defense Department announced an $87 million, seven-year award to the Bio-Industrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE), a nonprofit created by the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, for a new Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII). BioMADE, headquartered at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, will collaborate with public and private entities to advance sustainable and reliable bio-industrial manufacturing technologies, according to a DOD statement.

“The Department of Defense is committed to promoting U.S. biotechnology innovation and securing America’s bio-industrial base. Through today’s award, we are pleased to work with new partners to accelerate the Department’s biotechnology modernization and the development of this field which is so critical to our Nation’s future security and prosperity,” said Michael Kratsios, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

The $87M in DOD funding will be combined with more than $187 million in non-federal cost-sharing funds from 31 companies, 57 colleges and universities, six nonprofits, and two venture capital groups across 31 states, DOD reported.

BioMADE will work to establish long-term and dependable bio-industrial manufacturing capabilities in a wide array of products, including: chemicals, solvents, detergents, reagents, plastics, electronic films, fabrics, polymers, agricultural products (e.g., feedstock), crop protection solutions, food additives, fragrances and flavors.  

According to DOD, the Institute will examine and advance industry-wide standards, tools, and measurements; mature foundational technologies; foster a resilient bio-industrial manufacturing ecosystem; advance education and workforce development; and support the establishment and growth of supply chain intermediaries that are essential for a robust U.S. bio-economy.  Other key focus areas include challenges related to bio-safety and security and ethical, legal and societal considerations. 

BioMADE joins a network of eight additional MIIs already established by DOD to leverage innovation and commercial best practices in the advancement of the United States’ competitive technology lead and national security interests. Beginning in 2012, with the additive manufacturing institute America Makes, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Manufacturing Technology Office established the MIIs with the purpose of bringing “leap-ahead” technology to the warfighter while laying groundwork for commercial adoption by the private sector.

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