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Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst Round 4

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to invest £40m in major integrated research and development projects through the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst. Catalysts provide funding to innovative businesses and researchers working in priority areas with the aim of helping them to quickly turn excellent UK research into new or improved commercial processes and products.

The Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst programme will accelerate commercialisation by supporting the development of new industrial biotechnology products and processes, and enabling their potential scale-up. It will support R&D for the processing and production of materials, chemicals and bioenergy through the sustainable exploitation of biological resources. We are particularly encouraging a collaborative approach.

There are five types of award – early stage: translation; early stage: technical feasibility studies;  industrial research; late stage: technical feasibility studies; and late stage: experimental development – and, with the exception of translation awards which are academic, can involve a single business or be collaborative. Total project sizes can range from up to £250k for feasibility studies to up to £10m for experimental development.


The IB Catalyst will support research and development for the processing and production of materials, chemicals (including pharmaceutical precursors and biopharmaceuticals) and bioenergy. The biological resources that may be utilised in these processes include tissues, enzymes and genes from organisms that include algae, marine life, fungi, microorganisms and plants.

The IB Catalyst aims to encourage the use of new technologies such as systems and synthetic biology alongside more traditional approaches such as fermentation and process engineering, and biocatalysis; including theory and modelling.

Projects should address one or more of the following challenges using biological processes, or processes in which biological and chemical approaches are used in combination. These approaches can include the theory and modelling of the processes involved:

  • Production of fine and specialty chemicals and natural products (e.g. fragrances, flavours, pharmaceutical intermediates)
  • Production of commodity, platform and intermediate chemicals and materials (e.g. plastics, resins, textiles)
  • Production of liquid and gaseous biofuels
  • Production of peptides and proteins (e.g. enzymes, antibiotics, recombinant biologics)
  • Novel or improved upstream or downstream processes to reduce costs or improve efficiency

What is classed as ‘out of scope'?

  • The IB Catalyst will not fund research that uses feedstocks from material that could be used for the human food chain or animal feed for the purposes of production of liquid and gaseous fuels (unless they have already fulfilled their food purpose).
  • Projects involving the production of food and drink are out of scope; however, projects may address the production of fine chemicals for use as food ingredients, for example flavourings and colourings.
  • The IB Catalyst will not support research aimed at discovery and screening for activity
  • Projects involving the production of cell therapies and vaccine manufacturing are out of scope.

The IB Catalyst supports three stages of award in line with the state of readiness of the project you are considering. Three categories of award are available under this scheme, which are designed to support the maturation of an idea from concept to commercialisation, and applicants must decide which award category is most appropriate for their work. These are:

  • Early Stage Awards: translation and feasibility studies
  • Industrial Research
  • Late stage Awards: technical feasibility studies and experimental development

It is expected that projects funded through the IB Catalyst, other than experimental development, may wish to seek to move through the scheme as their project matures.

The competition opens on 21 May 2015.


Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst - Late-Stage - Technical Feasibility Studies
Opens: 21 May 2015
Registration closes: 25 Nov 2015
Closes: 02 Dec 2015
Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst - Early-stage - Technical Feasibility studies
Opens: 21 May 2015
Registration closes: 25 Nov 2015
Closes: 02 Dec 2015
Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst - Industrial research
Opens: 21 May 2015
Registration closes: 05 Aug 2015
Closes: 12 Aug 2015
Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst - Late-stage - Experimental development - 
Opens: 21 May 2015
Registration closes: 05 Aug 2015
Closes: 12 Aug 2015
Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst - Early-stage - Translation 
Opens: 21 May 2015
Registration closes: 05 Aug 2015
Closes: 12 Aug 2015



There will be a webinar briefing for this competition on the 28th May. Register for the webinar here

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