On Monday, we reported in Where is Your Money Going? The Mess at USASpending.Gov that according to the US government’s transparency in government spending website, bioeconomy pioneer Genomatica has received more than $280 million in federal grants and contracts since 2008.
Surprising we would imagine to the staff at Genomatica, too, since it’s hogwash of the “messed up database” type.
When the enabling legislation passed in 2007, Republican lawmaker Tom Davis of Virginia noted, “This legislation puts into place a framework that sheds light on the Federal grant process, allowing anyone with access to the Internet the ability to review and search financial assistance rewards. Sunshine, Mr. Speaker, is the best disinfectant.”
The government’s effort at “disinfecting with sunshine” is really fouled up. You might wonder why we’re putting nearly $4 million per year into managing and publishing this database.
This week, Genomatica’s CEO Christophe Schilling responded to the USASpending.Gov debacle.
Regarding your article from today about USASpending.Gov… You are absolutely correct – Genomatica has never received hundreds of millions of dollars from the government. We are appreciative of the grants we have received – about $7 million during those years referenced – which have helped advance aspects of our bioprocess technologies. We have shared our results with the industry at multiple conferences as well as in public reports, which we believe can multiply the commercial impact of our work based on those grants.
We are contacting the government website to ask them to correct all of the data you highlight that is inaccurately attributed to Genomatica. I hope there are no other companies in our field that are also mis-characterized. Greater accountability should be taken by those responsible for putting together a site like this to ensure its accuracy for the sake of all tax payers. We all should have a right to know where the dollars are being spent as the site supposedly intends to do. I certainly hope this isn’t a situation where the numbers are being purposefully mis-allocated to hide something more significant.
Your article is a great reminder of the important role that government has played and can play to accelerate the commercialization of job-creating technologies like ours. Developing and maintaining a consistent policy coupled with modest funding support can significantly advance high-potential technology and keep the United States at the forefront of innovation. BIO, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, does a nice job of highlighting the economic payback of government efforts in the field. We look forward to seeing more extensive commercial deployment in the United States of innovations that we and others in our field are championing, and highlighting the success of government policy and support where applicable.
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