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£17M announced to support industrial biotechnology

A total of 16 projects have received a share of £17M to bring innovative challenge-led biotechnology concepts to market. The projects will use cutting edge science to deliver benefits for society: from creating new drugs from bacteria, to making plastic from plants.

The Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst is a multi-million-pound competition funded by Innovate UK, BBSRC and EPSRC which aims to boost collaborations between the academic and business communities. Industrial biotechnology focuses on developing biological processes to improve efficiency in chemical production and help combat threats such as antimicrobial resistance and reliance on fossil fuels.

In the UK, the sector generates around £2.9Bn annually and supports around 9,000 jobs.

The projects funded under round four of the IB Catalyst focus on a range of topics such as creating biofuels and developing new antibiotics to keep us healthy. One such project from the University of Manchester, John Innes Centre and GlaxoSmithKline will look to improve processes by developing new enzymes which could be used by bacteria to produce drugs molecules in a more cost-effective manner.

Since its inception in 2014, the IB Catalyst has provided valuable support for academic and industrial collaboration to foster research translation. Over £75M has been invested over four rounds, helping to secure the UK’s position as a world-leader in the sector; driving new technologies and creating new jobs.

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: “Industrial biotechnology has the potential to provide solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges. BBSRC will continue to support bioscience researchers working in the sector to deliver a more prosperous, sustainable future.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “If Industrial Biotechnology is to deliver the solutions it promises we must continue funding the underpinning science and engineering on which it relies. It is an exciting field that requires a cross-disciplinary approach.”

Simon Edmonds, Manufacturing and Materials Director at Innovate UK, said:  “This latest round of projects demonstrates the clear potential to address these global grand challenges in biotechnology and turn them into exciting business opportunities for UK companies.”

 

Funded projects

  • A Synthetic Biology Approach for the Total Biosynthesis of Semi-Synthetic Antibiotics - The University of Manchester/John Innes Centre

  • Translation of step-changing bioprocesses and expression system technologies for next-generation protein biologics production in CHO cells - Lonza Biologics/University of Kent

  • Enhancing the yield of industrial Actinomycete fermentations - GSK/University of Strathclyde

  • Enzymic polymerisation, characterisation and market evaluation of a set of novel bioplastic co-polymers derived from renewable resources - Biome Technologies/University of York/University of Liverpool

  • UK Continuous, Integrated Biologics Manaufacturing Project - Pall Europe Limited/CPI/Allergan/Fujifilm Diosynth Biotecnologies/Medimmune/Sciex UK/Merck Sharp & Dohme

  • Sugar replacement from microalgae - GlycoMar Limited/Mars/MicroA AS

  • Recombinant expression of animal and plant phospholipases - Biocatalysts

  • Reducing contamination risk and increasing yields in the production of platform sugars from UK MSW - Fiberight/University of Southampton/Novozymes US

  • Methods of Microbial Control in the Clostridial ABE Fermentation Process (MiCON) - Green Biologics Ltd

  • Late feasibility of novel methods for improved polyketide drug development - Isomerase Therapeutics/John Innes Centre

  • Enzyme co-localisation and aggregation for enhanced metabolic activity for commodity chemicals - ZuvaSyntha/University of Kent

  • Viable biotechnological production of industrial methacrylate polymers - Ingenza/Lucite International

  • Novel enzyme diversity for improved cleaning and hygiene - Unilever/University of Exeter

  • New Enzymatically Produced Interpenetrating Starch-Cellulose Gels - University of Exeter/University of East Anglia/University of Bath/John Innes Centre/Unilever/Croda/AB Agri

  • ConBioChem: Continuous bio-production of commodity chemicals  - The University of Nottingham/University College London/University of Cambridge/ Lucite International/Green Biologics/CPI/Ingenza/Chain Biotechnologies

  • MaxBio – Maximizing conversion yields in Biorefining - University of Dundee/The University of Nottingham/University of York/James Hutton Ltd/Chain Biotechnologies Green Biologics/ReBio Technologies

The funders have no immediate plans for a further round of IB Catalyst beyond the projects announced here. This is following a review of individual Delivery Plans and budget allocations. The first four rounds of Catalyst funding will be reviewed as they progress, and the funders remain committed to supporting the development of the UK industrial biotechnology sector while future funding for the Catalyst is explored.

 

Story source: BBSRC news, 26 May 2016

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Webinar on funding opportunities for Industrial Biotech & SynBio

This KTN webinar provided an update on the upcoming funding opportunities for industrial biotechnology & synthetic biology, with particular focus on the remit of each competition and where applications are likely to fit best. 

Download the slide deck >>

Watch the webinar recording >>

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