UC Davis will play an important role in a new $274.5 million multi-institution center to develop reliable, sustainable and large-scale bioindustrial manufacturing and technology. The Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE) was awarded $87.5 million over 7 years by the Department of Defense (DoD), along with $187 million in additional funding from the 80+ companies, universities and organizations involved.
Bioindustrial manufacturing uses living organisms to make industrial products such as renewable fuels, chemicals, nutrients and other materials. While vibrant, the industry still faces challenges in research and development, processing, scale-up and workforce development that BioMADE plans to address. With a partnership between 33 research universities, 24 community colleges, 31 private companies and 6 non-profit organizations, the center plans to bring together a wide range of perspectives to advance the field through research and development, moving existing products to commercialization and developing a strong workforce.
“I think it’s a great team,” said chemical engineering professor Karen McDonald, who is the UC Davis site lead. “They put together an amazing group of academic institutions and companies in a pretty short time frame.”
As part of BioMADE, UC Davis plans to leverage its strength in biotechnology, bioprocessing, scale-up techniques and techno-economic modeling to contribute to the project. UC Davis researchers will be able to compete for center-exclusive research funding in these and related areas, as well as contribute through leadership and workforce development. McDonald, biochemistry and chemistry associate professor Justin Siegel, Biotechnology Program director Denneal Jamison-McClung and the UC Davis Office of Research are currently working to recruit and mobilize researchers and administrators from around campus as they develop the center’s structure.
“We’re trying to open up opportunities for lots of faculty who do research in this area to not only compete for research funds through BioMADE, but also to participate in the workforce development efforts and any other aspects of the center,” said McDonald.
Since McDonald was recruited by colleagues at UC Berkeley, UC Davis has been a key contributor to the project and plans to continue its efforts as one of the center’s academic governing members. Additionally, McDonald will be eligible to serve on the center’s leadership council, Siegel plans to be part of the technical committee and Jamison-McClung is slated to serve on the workforce development committee.
BioMADE is led by the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC)—a nonprofit community of public and private researchers dedicated to advancing engineering biology—and will be headquartered at the University of Minnesota, with satellite sites at the EBRC, UC Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It will become the 16th member of the national Manufacturing Institutes USA network, a collection of federally-funded centers focused on manufacturing for different industries.