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Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy

Overview

BBSRC has identified industrial biotechnology and bioenergy as high-level priority areas in its Strategic Plan 2010-2015 The Age of Bioscience. BBSRC has a major role in supporting the development of new strains of organism and new biological processes towards improved manufacturing.

What do we mean by industrial biotechnology and bioenergy?

  • The use of biological resources for producing and processing materials, chemicals (including pharmaceutical precursors and biopharmaceuticals) and energy
  • These resources include plants, algae, marine life, fungi and micro-organisms

BBSRC's funding provision was published in its Delivery Plan (2011), it involves spending an additional £10M pa in this area by 2015.

Drivers

  • Investing in and developing the UK research base:
    Ensuring the UK has the capacity and capability to undertake a wide range of cross-disciplinary, internationally competitive scientific research, serving to attract investment and providing opportunities for employment and economic growth.
  • Encouraging and building research base and user interactions:
    Ensuring the UK research base is connected with its user community to allow the flow of ideas along the supply and value chains, allowing knowledge exchange and commercialisation of BBSRC-sponsored research and making the community 'user-ready' as well as providing opportunities for inward investment, employment and economic growth. This involves working closely with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the relevant Knowledge Transfer Networks.
  • Meeting societal needs, promoting awareness and facilitating societal interactions:
    Ensuring the UK research base helps to provide solutions to key societal needs such as helping to maintain affordable, sustainable lifestyles (through increased use of bio-renewables) whilst meeting key legal obligations (e.g. the Climate Change Act 2008: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050). The role also includes promoting interactions with society, informing on the outcomes of research and gauging public attitudes to current and emerging issues in this area.

Delivery

BBSRC is working with a number of different sponsors to support the development of a high quality cross-disciplinary community, interacting with users and meeting societal needs. There are strong links with BBSRC's strategy of Exploiting New Ways of Working (ENWW) through the use of genomic, systems biology and synthetic biology approaches to industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.

At a national level, there is a portfolio of grant funding covering research funded by BBSRC which may be in collaboration with other sponsors including EPSRC and industry. The research is carried out in UK universities, and institutes that receive strategic funding from BBSRC.

Significant investments in the area include:

BBSRC also supports a number of national training activities in the form of studentships in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy funded through Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) . A competition to encourage David Phillips Fellowships in the area was launched in 2012.

The key aims of BBSRC are also being met through a range of international collaborations with key UK sponsors and other European funding agencies through ERANets and with the Department of Biotechnology, India