18 Dec 2013 -- The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has funded 13 unique collaborative Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (BBSRC NIBB) to boost interaction between the academic research base and industry, promoting the translation of research into benefits for the UK.
One project, PHYCONET: unlocking the IB [industrial biotechnology] potential of microalgae, is co-lead by Dr Michele Stanley at SAMS, and Dr Saul Purton at University College London.
Dr Stanley said: "We at SAMS are very pleased at the announcement that Phyconet has been funded. This network will help in highlighting the potential industrial biotechnology uses of micro algae and builds on the research that is already under way at SAMS in this field."
The networks pool skills from academia and business to develop research projects with the potential to overcome major challenges in the industrial biotechnology and bioenergy arena. They also allow new members to come on board with skills that can benefit the group.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "To get ahead in the global race we need to turn our world-beating science and research into world-beating products and services, as set out in our Industrial Strategy.
"These networks will unlock the huge potential of biotechnology and bioenergy, such as finding innovative ways to use leftover food, and creating chemicals from plant cells."
The networks will drive new ideas to harness the potential of biological resources for producing and processing materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy. Each has a particular focus, such as: realising the potential of food waste and by-products to produce chemicals and biomaterials; unlocking the industrial biotechnology potential of microalgae; producing high value chemicals from plants; and making use of plant cell walls (lignocellulosic biomass) to produce chemicals and biofuels.
Each network includes funds to support a range of small proof of concept research projects, to demonstrate potential benefits for end user industries. The networks will then work with industries to investigate these research challenges further. Many of these ideas and collaborative links will build into the next phase: the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst, funded by BBSRC, the Technology Strategy Board and the EPSRC, to be launched in early 2014 to support the development of ideas from concept to commercialisation.
The catalyst has benefited from recent cash injections and will now offer £45M funding to support major integrated research projects involving collaborations between academic and business communities that will offer clear commercial potential.
These new schemes form the central part of BBSRC's strategy to support the development of Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) as a key component of the UK bioeconomy and will help to provide sustainable processes for producing bio-based alternatives to products which currently rely on petrochemicals.
For the full BBSRC press release and BBSRC contact details, click here
For more on Dr Michele Stanley's research, click here
For more on Dr Saul Purton's research, click here
For other SAMS news, please contact Comms officer Cathy Winterton by email or tel: 01631 559 342