In a world witnessing the need for environmental-friendly technologies that solve societal issues, biological solutions have progressively imposed themselves as being critical to address tomorrow’s challenges in yellow (food), green (agriculture), blue (marine), grey (biodiversity) and white (industry) biotech spaces.
Biosolutions are biological solutions, which are often associated with the utilization of microorganisms to create novel solutions that are not possible to achieve with conventional methods. Their usage has progressively expanded into solving environmental engineering challenges in other fields than biotech e.g. food shortage, agricultural expansion, the maintenance of marine ecosystems and biodiversity conservation. More recently, organisations have started to use these solutions as a mean to improve industrial performance while preserving the planet's resources and improving the livelihoods. Biosolutions are also developed under the term bioindustrials and complement existingbiotechnologies in the healthcare and environmental spaces.
Looking at the US, a greater implementation of biosolutions is observed within the agriculture and food sectors. The US ranks as the world’s second largest agricultural sector and has a 16% share of total global methane emissions. With a growing population and the risk for even more significant emissions resulting from human activities, the demand for new and sustainable biosolutions is only increasing.
To address the need for a more sustainable food production, the development of biosolutions in the form of alternative proteins is important, especially in the cell-cultured meat and fermentation spaces. The implementation of biosolutions in the food sector is largely driven by start-ups. Furthermore, the agriculture sector is also experiencing a growing implementation of biosolutions with scientists inventing solutions to improve crop efficiency, through products such as bio-pesticides, bio-stimulants and bio-fertilizers.
However, the potential for biosolutions expands beyond agriculture and food. The American company BioMason develops bio based cement, which is grown by using microorganisms, similar to the growth of coral reefs. There are also developments utilising bacteria to transform gas pollution into fuels and chemicals.
The global market for industrial biosolutions is expected to grow by 10% annually, reaching an expected total market value of approx. $600B in 2026. The US has a significant potential for developing cutting-edge biosolutions, especially in the food sector on the West Coast. However, there is also significant activity in the cell-derived solutions space on the East Coast.
Below five perspectives gives an indication of the maturity of the biosolutions sector in the US.
FDA provides support through workshops and discussion with organisations focusing on how to navigate the US regulatory framework within emergent fields. However, interviews conducted with ICDK Boston’s network suggest that new policies creating a framework for the use of biolsolutions in the US will be introduced soon by the US Congress.
US producers have successfully established themselves as biosolutions providers, especially in the food industry. In this sector, more than 100 US companies are using or producing ingredients and alternative proteins. The total contribution of the biosolution industry to the U.S. economy in 2017 was $470 billion.
The start-up ecosystem in the US is growing with support from incubators and non-profit organisations accelerating the development of biosolutions in the food sector. One such organisation is the Good Food Institute.
Several knowledge hubs exist and more are being built in the US to support research and development of biosolutions. They are typically located on the coasts (in California and Massachusetts) and funded by public authorities such as the US Ministry of Agriculture (USDA).
Policy uncertainty is causing instability and increased investment risk in the biosolutions industry. However, in some sectors such as the food sector, biosolutions are well established and securing funding: the alternative protein industry secured US$5B in funding in 2021. Substantive investments are also observed within plant-based food, fermentation products and cultivated meat.
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Daniel B. Oerther. Biological Solutions. Environmental solutions. 2005;
Ramboll. The assessment of the market potential for deployment of Biosolutions within the U.S. Food and Agriculture sectors. 2021;
M. Krogsgaard Thomsen et al. Biosolutions: A clear path to fighting climate change. 2022;
Bio Based Press website; Good Food Institute. Record $5 billion invested in alt proteins in 2021, surging 60 percent since 2020. 2022;
ICDK Boston Data.