Building a Bottom-Up Bioeconomy

Philip Shapira, Nicholas E Matthews, Carrie A Cizauskas, Emily R Aurand, Douglas C Friedman, Donovan S Layton, Mary E Maxon, Megan J Palmer, Laurence Stamford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The pandemic, and the problems it has exposed, provides an opportunity to transition to an industrial ecosystem that better meets society’s changing needs. New approaches enabled by advances in engineering biology could be used to bolster more equitable and resilient societies and foster sustainable “circular” economies that can reduce waste and pollution, reuse materials, and more readily address climate and other environmental challenges. Engineering biology can help to accomplish the technical side of this vision, but it requires concerted action by policymakers, researchers, businesses, and communities to achieve its societal and environmental potential. Enacting this vision for engineering biology will also require a change in the field itself, so that practitioners come to see their role as more than simply engineering microbes, and instead embrace a larger mission of integrating diverse disciplines and knowledge sources while nurturing local capacity. Without deep social engagement, the field risks repeating the mistakes of the past and reinforcing currently inadequate economic and ecological systems. Reimagined in this way, engineering biology could play a critical role in realizing not just a vibrant bioeconomy, but a sustainable, resilient, and equitable one as well.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-83
JournalIssues in Science and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2022


  • bioeconomy
  • biomanufacturing
  • engineering biology
  • synthetic biology
  • industrialization
  • redistributed manufacturing
  • responsible innovation

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Biotechnology
  • Policy@Manchester
  • Sustainable Futures


Dive into the research topics of 'Building a Bottom-Up Bioeconomy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this