Agile BioFoundry 2023 Funding Opportunity

The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)-funded Agile BioFoundry (ABF) consortium is overseeing a funding opportunity for industry partners to utilize ABF capabilities.  

This funding opportunity provides resources to ABF teams to perform research on behalf of external, collaborating investigators, for developing novel microbial hosts, augmenting titer, rate, and yield of bioproducts, and creating new capabilities & approaches to improve the Design-Build-Test-Learn biomanufacturing cycle. Applicants should submit a proposal that identifies the technical challenges, approaches, and impacts to the mission of the ABF. 

There are NO special topics of interest for this funding opportunity. Proposals will leverage the consortium’s world-class capabilities to address challenges in biomanufacturing, as identified by the successful applicants from industry. Submissions should also clearly identify how the work addresses BETO goals of supporting the decarbonization of various industrial sectors, including development of sustainable bio-based products, and sustainable aviation fuels.

This opportunity funds competitively-selected non-negotiable Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) between BETO laboratory consortia and partners from industry. We anticipate approximately four proposals will be selected with a duration of up to two years. The ABF anticipates no less than a total of $3 million to be made available to the National Labs, to collaborate with industrial partners. Note that Federal funds shall support activities at the ABF National Labs only, and that project partners are required to provide a 20% cost share (including in-kind). 

Key dates for proposal submission and decisions for the Funding Opportunity are as follows:

  • March 20, 2023: Funding Opportunity announced
  • May 5, 2023: Feasibility submission due
  • May 12, 2023: Outcome of Feasibility Review
  • May 19, 2023: Coordination calls completed
  • June 16, 2023: Proposal and summary slide submission due
  • June-July 2023: External review
  • August 2023: Notification of acceptance or decline

Refer to the Agile BioFoundry FY23 Funding Opportunity Instructions for complete details. Please also see Frequently Asked Questions below.



* Proposal and summary slide template, as well as submission link, will be made available upon feasibility encouragement.

Prior to full proposal submission, each applicant must provide a feasibility document that is no more than 2 pages in length plus one additional page of citations no later than Friday, May 5, 2023. This form provides guidelines for the applicant to describe the proposed research to be carried out with ABF resources. ABF staff will use this document to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed research. Applicants will receive an encourage/discourage notification no later than Friday, May 12, 2023. An encouragement notification will direct the applicant to schedule a 30 minute coordination call with an opportunity to talk through your project idea, approach, impact and benefits with ABF lab principal investigators. These calls will take place no later than Friday, May 19, 2023. 

Applicants must submit their proposal and summary slide no later than Friday, June 16, 2023 at 5:00pm in the applicant’s time zone. Reviewers will not consider submissions after that time; there is no appeals process. Proposals submitted on time will progress to external review. ABF has selected external reviewers for their subject matter expertise and their independence from (i.e. no conflicts of interest with) the proposals to be reviewed. The external review sub-group will score and offer their written evaluations for each project proposal, based on its own merits. Once scores are normalized across external reviewer groups, the ABF will then select only from the ranked list of top-scoring projects that together constitute 1.5-fold of the available funds for the FY23 funding opportunity. Final decision-making will be based on ABF strategic priorities, project portfolio building, and resource availability at the ABF Labs that would perform the proposed work. The ABF will then communicate to all applicants the results of the proposal selection process, approximately three months after the submission deadline, including external reviewer feedback for all applicants, and next steps for selected applicants.

No. All awarded funds will be spent within the participating National Laboratories, with applicants directing how resources and expertise within the ABF are applied within the collaboration.

Proposals should be well-aligned with the missions of DOE and ABF, supporting the growth and proliferation of the US bio-manufacturing sector. Specifically, the project should support the mission of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO): Developing and demonstrating transformative and revolutionary sustainable bioenergy technologies for a prosperous nation. More information can be found in BETO’s Multiyear Project Plan.

While there are no special topics for this funding opportunity, proposals should specifically reference capabilities that the Agile BioFoundry offers, for example (but not limited to) artificial intelligence, -omics analysis, microbial host onboarding and development, biosensor development, bioprocess engineering, and techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment. Refer to Agile BioFoundry capabilities.

Applicants are expected to commit a minimum of 20% cost share. Example calculations:

  • Example of a project with $1.0M total budget:
    • $1.0M x 20% = $200K. 
    • DOE would contribute $800K 
    • Applicant’s cost share would be $200K.
  • Example of a project with $2.8M total budget:
    • The maximum DOE contribution is $2M. 
    • $2M DOE contribute x 20% = $400K, a subtotal of $2.4M. 
    • The applicant would need to cover the remaining $400K, bringing their total required contribution to $800K.

Most substantive contributions to the project will count as cost share, such as but not limited to labor, travel, materials, equipment, organisms, enzymes, pathways, data, or direct funds in. The collaborating organization will submit periodic cost share reports to account against their cost share commitment. Cost-share may not be derived from U.S. Federal Government funding streams.

Yes. Each proposal should articulate the set of major tasks of the project, using the table provided in the template or via a similar format.

No, but the milestones should be used to enable proactive project management, with clearly defined goals, metrics, and timelines. This is likely to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Certain challenges and risks called out in the proposal, where the applicant identifies a risk as a potential impasse, may necessitate a go/no-go milestone.

For all projects, per the non-negotiable CRADA terms, the successful applicant shall have the option to select from an exclusive license or a non-exclusive license to IP developed as part of the project. For details, please review the CRADA document here.

Preference will be given to proposals whose applicants are willing to share their findings (including data, lessons learned, developed methods and software, etc.) with future ABF projects.

Yes, feel free to email [email protected] to ask general questions about the ABF or questions specifically regarding this funding opportunity. If you would like to arrange a phone call, please note this in your email.

The ABF team will add all funding opportunity-related questions, along with their answers, to this page as we receive them.

Microbial hosts that the ABF currently works with on a regular basis comprise the following:

  • Pseudomonas putida KT2440
  • Aspergillus niger
  • Rhodosporidium toruloides
  • Aspergillus pseudoterreus ATCC 32359
  • Corynebacterium glutamicum ATCC 13032
  • Clostridium carboxidivorans
  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Zymomonas mobilis
  • Clostridium tyrobutyricum
  • Acinetobacter baylyi  ADP1
  • Pichia kudriavzevii 
  • Clostridium ljungdahlii
  • Clostridium autoethanogenum 
  • Cupriavidus necator 
  • Bacillus sp.

The ABF is interested in expanding into work with additional hosts. Any algae work should be near to commercialization or in collaboration with an industry partner, and leverage ABF capabilities (omics, machine learning, genetic tool development, metabolic modeling, etc)

Yes, both of these capabilities are available at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Please breakdown ABF resource estimates by National Lab.

No. The prescribed page limits include materials for proposals. No appendices will be considered. The ABF neither encourages or discourages letters of support and other similar documentation, but they must reside within the proposal page limits, as described in the proposal instructions.

US incorporated companies are eligible to apply. For other cases, such as for entities based outside the United States, applicants should review eligibility guidelines typical to US Dept. of Energy Funding Opportunities (see recent example, Section III). Please contact the ABF at [email protected] if your eligibility requires further clarification.

Proposals should be well-aligned with the missions of DOE and ABF, supporting the growth and proliferation of the U.S. biomanufacturing sector. As part of the proposal, each applicant should make the case for the appropriateness of this funding for the proposed project. More information can be found in BETO’s Multiyear Project Plan.

No, ABF investigators you are already working with may participate on an ABF funding opportunity-based project, if their capabilities and available resources fit the needs of the proposed project.

Yes, with the following requirements: 1) the equipment must not be counted as contributions on any other federal award, 2) the equipment is not paid for by the federal government under another federal award, unless that equipment is exempt from being used as cost share under the federal award, 3) the value of loaned equipment must not exceed fair rental value. The collaborator should provide appropriate supporting documentation at the time of the cost share declaration, during execution of the project.

Help us better inform the entire community. The ABF will append answers to your funding opportunity-related questions here. Please contact us at [email protected].