Research and innovation in the life sciences is driving rapid growth in agriculture, biomedical science, information science and computing, energy, and other sectors of the U.S. economy.   This emerging “bioeconomy” presents many opportunities to create jobs, improve the quality of life, and continue to drive economic growth.  While the US has been a leader in advancements in the biological sciences, other countries are also actively investing in and expanding their capabilities in this area. More than 40 countries have created and implemented national bioeconomy strategies and priorities.

The bioeconomy also presents challenges, beginning with how to accurately define it, measure its growth, and project its potential.  Collecting, processing, sharing, and storing the large amounts of data generated in the biosciences presents another challenge. Recent high profile data breaches in the biomedical sector raise concerns about adequately safeguarding data for purposes of both protecting privacy and appropriately addressing the data’s potential economic and intellectual value.

Maintaining competitiveness in the bioeconomy is key to maintaining the economic health and security of the United States and other nations. This study is being undertaken to define and assess the scope of U.S. bioeconomy.

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Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will be convened to consider strategies for safeguarding and sustaining the economic activity driven by research and innovation in the life sciences, collectively known as the bioeconomy. In completing its task, the committee will outline the landscape of the U.S. bioeconomy, as well as:

  • Outline existing approaches for assessing the value of the bioeconomy and identify intangible assets not sufficiently captured or that are missing from US assessments, such as the value of generating and aggregating datasets.
  • Provide a framework to measure the value of intangible assets, such as datasets.
  • Outline metrics commonly used to identify strategic leadership positions in the global economy and identify areas in which the US currently maintains leadership positions and is most competitive.
  • Outline potential economic and national security risks and identify policy gaps pertaining to the collection, aggregation, analysis, and sharing of data and other outputs of the bioeconomy.
  • Consider whether there are unique features of the bioeconomy that may require innovative cybersecurity solutions. In addition, determine if data or other intellectual property from the varied sectors of the bioeconomy (biomedical, agricultural, energy, etc.) require different safeguards or whether the same measures could be effective for all sectors. Also, determine if basic research requires different safeguarding mechanisms or whether practices effective for industry and manufacturing are applicable and sufficient for basic research.
  • Develop ideas for horizon scanning mechanisms to identify new technologies, markets, and data sources that have the potential to drive future development of the bioeconomy. Consider whether additional strategies (beyond those identified for the existing components of the bioeconomy) might be needed to safeguard these new technologies and data, and assess their implications for innovation and biosecurity.


The committee will prepare a consensus report that identifies options for strategies to safeguard the bioeconomy and will provide its analyses of the pros and cons of each option. It will then recommend which option or options it believes will address the above issues and protect the technologies, data, and other intellectual property of the bioeconomy most effectively while sustaining innovation and growth.


Committee Members
Staff Members


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