In 2016, the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supported initial work to provide a proof-of-concept for the Agile BioFoundry (ABF), a distributed consortium of nine DOE National Laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Ames National Lab, Argonne National Lab, Idaho National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, the National Renewable Energy Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab, and Sandia National Lab) focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in biomanufacturing. BETO provided $3M for these initial efforts that included industry and academic engagement and visioning opportunities, as well as a pilot project to establish core infrastructure and demonstrate the existing capabilities in place at the National Laboratories.
At listening days held in March and June 2016, industry participants identified shared pre-competitive research and development challenges, as well as best practices for industry-National Laboratory collaborations. Subsequently, with additional input from federal government stakeholders, the National Labs developed a vision for the ABF consortium and created and socialized a proposed plan. Together, the vision and plan present a strategy for the ABF to address shared industry needs for the development of biological engineering technologies.
In 2017, BETO provided $15M to the ABF to continue the development and demonstration of capabilities and capacity within the consortium (guided by industry-identified challenges), as well as $5M to the ABF to support competitively-selected industry-driven collaborative research and development projects.