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Cultivating a More Competitive Bioeconomy Through Strengthening Small Business Workforces


b.      Cultivating a More Competitive Bioeconomy Through Strengthening Small Business Workforces

This subtopic solicits proposals that pilot a research-driven workforce development program or tool that can be widely applicable for the bioeconomy, establishing a partnership with business experts in bioenergy and/or inclusive workforce development.


Because biomass exists across geographically diverse regions (i.e., agricultural crops, forestry residues, Municipal Solid Waste, algae), people living in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the country could all benefit from careers and opportunities in the bioenergy industry. Increasing representation and inclusivity within the bioenergy industry will support a more competitive domestic science and engineering workforce to lead the way on innovation in the global economy [1].


The research project should investigate questions related to the representation and inclusivity within the business’ workplace in relation to technical and operational challenges that could be inhibiting its commercial objectives in the bioeconomy. The overall outcome is to create a workforce development program or tool through this research that improves the commercialization potential of the business partner. Ideally outcomes of this R&D are scalable mechanisms, platforms, and technologies for increasing and improving diverse representation and equality within the bioeconomy’s workforce. This could include, but is not limited to, demonstrated success in increasing recruitment of trained professionals with parallel skills from job sectors that have declined domestically, improving workplace retention from underrepresented backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and/or leadership positions; and correlating their project with these improvements.


Specific areas of interest under this subtopic include, but are not limited to:

·         Development of software to foster experiential learning mediated by employer-educator partnerships that will ensure the alignment of bioenergy curriculum with workplace demands. This software or technology should address barriers associated with urban and rural areas as well as engaging people with underrepresented backgrounds within bioenergy R&D and deployment.

·         Research to identify gaps in workforce development, recruitment, and retention within bioenergy fields of future workers/employees from underrepresented backgrounds and implementation of a multi-year data-driven program to address these gaps at the small business. The multi-year data-driven program will provide a roadmap for other small businesses.

·         Development of artificial intelligence or other data-driven platforms that identify the impact of lacking or underdeveloped inclusive operational and/or commercial practices on workforce development that, if addressed, can improve business success and expansion.


Applications must include a robust evaluation plan to track and demonstrate the success of the workforce development program proposed.


Applications that propose the following will not be considered for award under this subtopic:

·         Development of traditional curricula or courses on bioenergy topics.

·         Conventional internship and training programs.


Phase I of this topic includes completion of research and beta-testing of the workforce development program or tool. Phase II includes the deployment of this technology at the bioeconomy business and scaling the tool to other businesses.


Questions – Contact: Devinn Lambert,

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