BBSRC outlines new support for industrial biotechnology research and application
14 December 2012
BBSRC has announced outline plans to launch two new schemes in 2013 and 2014 to develop the UK's industrial biotechnology and bioenergy research community (including bioprocessing and biorenewables) and to support the translation of new ideas into commercial applications.
Industrial biotechnology is the harnessing of bio-based inputs for the production of industrially useful products on a large scale. If offers novel solutions through the use of plants, bacteria, algae and fungi as non-fossil sources that will benefit many UK industry sectors including chemicals, renewable energy, materials, and health.
The new schemes, to be launched with full details in January, form the central part of BBSRC's strategy to support the development of industrial biotechnology and bioenergy as a key component of the UK bioeconomy. Advancing industrial biotechnology not only offers financial benefit and sustainable economic growth for the UK, but also promises to create thousands of new 'green collar' jobs. The UK's share of the Global industrial biotechnology market is expected to reach £4-12 billion by 2025.
The new BBSRC support for industrial biotechnology and bioenergy will be initiated through two mechanisms. The first will support networks of industrial biotechnology and bioenergy researchers and encourage interaction with private enterprise to generate new research ideas and technologies. The aim is to widen and strength the research community in this area. The second scheme, with a first call anticipated in early 2014, will be a research fund to support significant projects that aim to meet major challenges in the industrial biotechnology sector. This will rely on fostering collaboration with industry to ensure that research has the biggest possible impact for the UK.
BBSRC is working with several stakeholders to ensure that the strategy supports multidisciplinary research that can be translated into industry and lead to commercialisation.
Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director, Innovation and Skills, said: "Investing in industrial biotechnology research has the potential to generate significant returns. World-class research exists within the UK and these schemes will do more to achieve its full potential for industry, economic growth and society as a whole. The bioeconomy is worth trillions globally and could bring major benefits to the UK and create thousands of jobs in the coming years. These economic benefits offer a sustainable and 'green' future with industrial biotechnology shifting us away from fossil fuels and towards renewable foundations.
"Through these schemes we are seeking to energise the UK industrial biotechnology community and to support the building of strong research networks, industry-academic collaborations and new ideas that can be funded through to the brink of commercial application. This will ensure that emerging areas of bioscience are fully integrated into the industrial biotechnology arena."
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £500M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.