The Agile BioFoundry (ABF) oversees directed-funding opportunities for industry partners to utilize the ABF to develop novel microbial hosts and bioproducts or to develop new capabilities and approaches that will advance all aspects of the Design-Build-Test-Learn biomanufacturing cycle. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) BioEnergy Technologies Office (BETO) made US$5M available to the National Labs participating in the ABF to collaborate with industrial partners. Projects were limited to two years and $500K to $2M total per project, and required a 30% industrial cost-share. A total of 19 proposals were submitted (18 industry | 1 academic) and $19.2M requested (a 4X over-subscription of resources), which indicates that industry is very interested in leveraging the ABF.
Seven proposals (from Agilent Technologies, LanzaTech, Lygos, Kiverdi, the Ellen Neidle Lab at the University of Georgia, TeselaGen Biotechnology, and Visolis) are currently moving forward, and work is anticipated to commence in January 2018. It is hoped that similar additional ABF Directed-Funding Opportunities will be made available on an annual basis going forward.
Collaborative Research and Development Agreements and Strategic Partnership Programs
Collaborative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and Strategic Partnership Programs (SPPs) are additional mechanisms under which the ABF can work together with Industry.
SPPs tend to be smaller engagements and often involve the ABF performing a single unit operation (e.g., targeted proteomics analysis) for the Industrial Partner. SPPs may be very attractive to Industry, as the Industrial Partner retains all intellectual property (IP) rights derived from the work performed. CRADAs tend to be larger engagements involving the ABF performing multiple unit operations in collaboration with the Industrial Partner (which may embed its staff at ABF facilities while pursuing the scope of the project’s work).
Under CRADAs, IP ownership follows inventorship, with the Industrial Partner generally having a right of first refusal to an exclusive license to ABF (co-)invented IP in specific field(s) of use. Unless otherwise stated (e.g., the ABF Directed-Funding Opportunity), the Industrial Partner will pay full-cost recovery for all ABF National Lab work performed under the scope of the project’s work. There may be certain other restrictions placed on CRADAs and SPPs, for example the scope of the project’s work must only include domain expertise and capabilities exclusively/uniquely available from the ABF National Labs (i.e., are not otherwise commercially available), and developed processes/products that are derivative of the work performed may need to be first substantially implemented/manufactured in the United States.
Agile BioFoundry (ABF) Researchers are free to collaborate with other researchers from within academic/non-profit/government institutions, with the work either needing to be directly aligned with the ABF’s mission, or the collaborating parties required to secure additional sources of funding to pursue the collaborative work.