Biotechnology is all around us and a big part of our lives, providing breakthrough products to cure disease, protect against bio-terrorism, feed the hungry, and clean our environment. At its simplest, biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes and puts them to work to help solve our most intractable problems.
Society has tapped just a small fraction of the many potential uses—and beneﬁts— of biotechnology. Every day, research scientists explore new ways to improve our quality of life using biotechnology. In fact, biotechnology presents some of the most promising opportunities for helping policymakers achieve their goal of supporting innovation in health care, renewable energy, and green technologies. However, biotech research and development is a particularly high-risk undertaking because of the substantial start-up costs, lengthy experimentation period, and possibility that the technology will not prove viable. That puts biotechnology companies at the mercy of investors. Complicating matters, the regulatory review processes are not keeping up with rapidly advancing science and are making it a more difficult environment to develop new treatments and products.
Fully realizing the promise of biotechnology requires a comprehensive national strategy that ﬁne-tunes some policies and overhauls others. In the pages that follow, we outline a policy agenda that we believe will enable U.S. biotech companies to transform the innovative ideas of today into the realities of tomorrow.