Business Secretary Vince Cable has unveiled the winners of a multi-million-pound competition to bring innovative UK biotechnology projects to market.
A total of 23 projects, ranging from making biofuel from household waste to using bacteria to make the building blocks for new medicines, will share almost £20m from the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst, introduced in January 2014 to support collaboration between UK researchers and the emergent industrial biotechnology sector.
Industrial biotechnology is a rapidly emerging industry in the UK and is predicted to be worth up to £12bn by 2025.
Speaking on a visit to winning industrial biotechnology company Ingenza in Edinburgh this morning, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Whether it’s developing new antibiotics or producing plastics from plants, this funding will help our talented researchers across the UK continue to bring their innovative ideas to market.
“The Government is committed to supporting this emerging sector as part of our science and innovation strategy and this additional £20 million through the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst will help cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this sector.”
Ingenza has been awarded a total of almost £680,000 to carry out research including developing new biopharmaceuticals that could be used to make a new class of antibiotics.
Vince Cable saw first-hand how scientists onsite are using biological processes to manufacture chemicals, biofuels and biopharmaceuticals from sustainable sources. He also took the opportunity to meet apprentices who have been working at the company to kick-start their scientific careers.
Ian Fotheringham, Ingenza’s managing director said: “At Ingenza we use innovative synthetic biology tools to increase the speed, scale, and predictability with which we can build or redesign biological systems for commercial applications.
“Dr Cable’s visit is a much appreciated boost to our efforts to contribute to job growth in the UK’s burgeoning industrial biotechnology sector.”
With the support of the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst, British researchers have already helped develop new technologies in everything from plastics produced from plant residues to chemicals from yeast to be used in sunscreens and cancer treatments.
The multi-million pound fund has been pledged by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK to support UK researchers and companies to work together to bring their biotechnology innovations to market and to help cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this sector.