I recently had the honor of being invited to present at the March 7th Milken Institute briefing in Washington, DC, on the topic of the bio-economy with a specific focus on Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships. It wasn’t easy. You may recall March 7th was the eve of a three-day snowstorm that dumped up to two feet or more of snow in the Northeast. Getting from Boston to DC and back, well, not easy, but I made it. But enough about me. Of greater importance is the work the Milken Institute is doing in this area, and their recent report related to bio-economy.
Not familiar with the Milken Institute? Here, by way of their own description, is who they are and what they do: A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, the Milken Institute believes in the power of capital markets to solve urgent social and economic challenges and improve lives… To build a foundation of rigorous, independent research, we have assembled a respected team of economists, industry experts and scholars to analyze the issues and choices facing policymakers… We convene a network of influential decision-makers from the private and public sectors to help us transform ideas into action. The Milken Institute partners with global leaders in finance, business, government, science and philanthropy – people with the vision and resources to make a significant impact.
Recently, they completed a report entitled, Unleashing the Power of the Bio-Economy. I recommend it as a ‘must-read’ document for anyone and everyone with a vested interest in the future of renewable bio-chemicals and the explosive economic implications of a well-developed, well-supported U.S. initiative in this regard. Here are just three short introductory paragraphs from the report that summarize the Milken Institute’s thinking on this topic:
In much the way that high oil prices and concerns about climate change have spurred the development of renewable fuels, the same challenges have produced a surge of public and private interest in bio-based alternatives to petrochemicals. Bio-based chemicals, derived from plants, algae, and organic waste rather than petrochemicals, offer potentially major economic and environmental benefits. With the tools of biotechnology, agricultural-based feedstocks can in principle replicate the vast array of petrochemicals now used to make plastics, textiles, building materials, and countless other products that permeate modern life.
The potential opportunities are huge. Ninety-six percent of all U.S. manufactured goods use some sort of chemical product, and businesses dependant on the chemical industry account for nearly $3.6 trillion in US GDP.
For the United States, bio-based chemicals can reduce dependence on imported oil, curb emissions of greenhouse gases, and open up new opportunities for farmers and rural communities. Using genetic engineering and the older science of organic chemistry, manufacturers could fine-tune their plant-based products to offer longer endurance, new performance attributes, and greater biodegradability.
Like I said, it’s well worth the read!