How the UK is Taking the Business World of Synthetic Biology by Storm

By Caroline Channing

Guest blog by Ashley Kubis, SynBioBeta

The United Kingdom has emerged as a global leader in the synthetic biology. Here, the uniquely, well-established synbio scene goes beyond the top-notch programs of study offered at Cambridge, Oxford, and Imperial College London. The UK is taking the business world of synthetic biology by storm with its many promising startups and is proving to be one of the most synbio-friendly environments in the world.

There are many forces that the UK synbio industry has to thank for the influx of startups that have taken root there. These include the SynbiCITE, whose mission is to the serve as a bridge between the spheres of academia and business to accelerate the translation of synbio technology from research to reality is influencing change across the UK. IndieBio, whose European arm is located in Cork, Ireland and is intimately associated with the UK synbio scene. IndieBio is a business and technology incubator for biotech startups where groups such as Afineur, BioCellection, and Spira have gotten their start. To top it off, dedicated sources of funding like the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst program and the Bio-start Accelerator round out the near-perfect conditions in the UK for the budding synbio field.

With its booming presence in in the field, it’s no surprise that the UK is home the annual European SynBioBeta conference, held each year in London. SynBioBeta brings together actors from all of the most innovative leaders in industry and academia with investors and technology scouts. Attendees have the opportunity to listen to panel discussions and talks delivered by top players in the field, as well as engage in invaluable networking events to make connections and build their business. SynBioBeta also hosts smaller, more frequent series of conferences around the world known as SynBioBeta Activate!, with the most recent of such UK-based events taking place in Edinburgh in association with the Edinburgh Genome Foundry.

Last year at SynBioBeta London 2016, there was a wide range of UK and international companies presenting the latest news, tools and innovative products using synthetic biology technology.  Innovators were welcomed to showcase their bio renewable products using synbio technology. Companies like Deinove discussed how they have developed routes to bio products such as carotenoids and mucoid acid, using their host bacterial species Deinococcus. Evolva is producing a grapefruit terpene called Nootkatone using bacteria, which can be used as an insect repellent while smelling like the fruit. Companies including GSK and Novozymes are developing enzymes and we have Twist Bioscience and Gen9 who are continuously improving speed and volume of DNA printing which has allowed genetic engineering to be done more cost effectively and at a faster pace. CRISPR genome editing technology has been taken up by many synbio innovators, with a lot of enthusiasm about its ability to quickly and effectively cut and paste DNA in living cells. There were companies such as AstraZeneca who are using CRISPR to develop cell lines for drug discovery and delivery as well as Thermo Scientific investigating curing genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia and Glaucoma. With the industry rapidly evolving, SynBioBeta connects you with thought-provoking talks, panels and networking opportunities, allowing the science and business sides of the industry to make critical connections.

SynBioBeta conferences offer a great annual benchmark as to the state of the field, and it is apparent that the pace of progress is accelerating. As biology becomes increasingly easier to engineer, we can potentially revolutionize the way we develop therapeutics, grow our food, and produce our chemicals. SynBioBeta is proud that its upcoming 2017 conference will represent its fifth annual event taking place in London.  The organization is currently looking for speakers to join the lineup for this event.  As a speaker, you will have an opportunity to broadcast your insight to the synthetic biology community, engage in critical discourse, and make invaluable connections with like-minded participants.  If you are interested in becoming a speaker at SynBioBeta London 2017, please contact Ashley Kubis at


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