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"The process of developing industrial biomanufacturing [IB] processes is broken," warns Sean Ward, founder and chief technology officer at bioengineering firm Synthace, in London, UK. "It costs too much and it takes too long." He cites a Lux Research analysis from June that estimates that it currently takes on average 7.4 years to bring an IB process to full scale.
Governments, scientific institutions and companies are therefore acting to help industrial biomanufacturing streamline commercialisation and capitalise on its promise. A roadmap produced in March by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is already influencing planners domestically and internationally. Meanwhile the UK's approach to assist the technology across the "valley of death" to market has evolved since it adopted "synthetic biology" as one of its "eight great technologies."
The NAS report estimates that bio-based product markets were already worth $353bn in 2012, more than 2.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. That encompasses pharmaceutical, bulk and fine chemical manufacturing, underlines report committee chair Thomas Connelly, who was formerly chief innovation officer of chemicals giant DuPont. "Companies such as BASF, DuPont, and DSM are heavily using bio-based manufacturing techniques in many processes," he adds.
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