UK to drive biomanufacturing capabilities

The UK has launched  a multimillion pound competition to place itself at the heart of the world’s sustainable biomanufacturing industry.

UK Research and Innovation and a range of partners have launched a feasibility study competition to develop and improve sustainable biomanufacturing in the UK.

Innovate UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will look to support cross-sector collaborations to expand research, innovation and commercialisation in UK sustainable biomanufacturing.

UKRI said: “Biomanufacturing offers vast potential for the UK. If harnessed to its maximum potential, biomanufacturing can play a critical role in achieving the UK government’s ambition to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

“But it offers even further potential. While biomanufacturing is already playing a fundamental role across a diverse range of UK industry sectors, its potential in helping to secure the UK’s future economic prosperity cannot be underestimated.

“Indeed, biomanufacturing is critical to both societal and economic stability.”

The new feasibility competition will support the development, design and delivery of new and disruptive sustainable biomanufacturing products by 2050.

It forms part of a wider sustainable bio-based materials and manufacture programme currently being developed by Innovate UK, BBSRC and EPSRC.

Dr Lee Beniston, Associate Director for Industry Partnerships and Collaboration at BBSRC, said: “Biomanufacturing offers a wealth of opportunity, both for the UK and on a global scale. This feasibility competition, combined with an industrial scale competition to follow in 2023, will expand UK research and innovation capability in bio-based manufacturing, improving biomanufacturing processes and making them more efficient and sustainable.

“I am thrilled that Innovate UK are partnering with BBSRC and EPSRC. This will enable both businesses and researchers to be supported and benefit, which is critical for UK clean growth ambitions.”

In spring 2023, a further collaborative research and development competition will be launched as part of the programme and will support industrial scale research.

With up to £14 million investment, the cross-council programme will seek to make the UK more globally competitive by supporting feasibility studies with collaborative development across different industries and sectors.

“The sustainable bio-based materials and manufacture competition offers UK registered organisations a share of up to £2 million for feasibility studies to develop and improve sustainable biomanufacturing in the UK,” UKRI added.

The competition promotes collaboration between businesses and academic researchers to develop more sustainable bio-based products, biotechnology processes and innovations.

To ensure funding supports a variety of projects across different technologies, themes and markets, The UKRI said a portfolio approach will be adopted when assessing competition proposals.

David Elson, Head of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, said: “We have a rich history of successful collaboration across UKRI in the field of industrial biotechnology.

“It is hugely exciting that we now have the opportunity to further build on these partnerships and deliver tangible benefits to both academia and business, and more broadly to society, through the sustainable bio-based materials and manufacture programme.”

Dr Robert Felstead, Deputy Director of Cross-Council Programmes at EPSRC, added: “Biomanufacturing helps to address challenges such as food security, climate change and energy security. This new funding opportunity will advance the design and translation of next generation sustainable biomanufacturing to support the UK’s clean growth agenda.”