Guest blog: UKRI’s first five year strategy Transforming Tomorrow Together

Mark Kotter

Guest blog by Dr Mark Kotter, CEO and Founder of bit.bio.

As UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have published their first five-year strategy transforming tomorrow together, which aims to “capture the full benefits of our research and innovation prowess” and keep the UK competitive on a global scale, I’ve taken a moment to look at what it means for bit.bio. This comes at a time we build on our record-breaking series B funding round and reflect on our role, as part of the wider biotechnology sector, in helping the UK achieve scientific superpower status.

The strategy is underpinned by four principles: Diversity, Connectivity, Resilience and Engagement, that “will support the UK’s world class research and innovation system, fuel an innovation-led economy and society and drive prosperity across the UK.” I welcome UKRI’s renewed focus and principles that tune in with bit.bio’s ultimate mission: to provide human cells for research, drug discovery and cell therapy, enabling a new generation of medicines.

The first of these principles is “supporting diversity, of ideas, people, activities, skills, institutions and infrastructures.” As bit.bio embark on a new paradigm in biology, understanding and facilitating movement across these areas will enable us and many other innovative companies to flourish. UKRI sit in the centre of several different sectors, so it is right they champion diversity and allow the UK as a whole to realise its full potential.

On connectivity, UKRI envisages the removal of barriers between business and academia combined with the bringing together of skills, ideas and knowledge. At bit.bio, we recognise that the best innovation comes from collaboration, such as through our partnership with the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences announced back in 2020. We heralded the fusion of previously separate industries (software and synthetic biology) with an aim to explore the full operating system of life with mathematics, machine learning and large scale experimentation. UKRI can be the connective tissue for other industries to do the same and establish new ways of working.

Achieving resilience through a “robust and accessible funding landscape for commercialisation and scale-up” is an important component of the strategy. I hope to see more initiatives deployed over the coming years like Future Fund: Breakthrough, which encouraged private investment in R&D intensive companies, and the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), which will invest in “projects with potential to produce transformative technological change.”

Finally, bringing people with us through effective engagement and “the removal of barriers between research and innovation and wider society” is vital. bit.bio intend to play our part in helping to bring the work we do closer to the public it serves. I recently spoke at the Royal Institution, appeared on Hightech Ventures and Built with Biology podcasts and continue to engage with other stakeholders to broaden our reach with the wider community.

I look forward to aligning with UKRI by putting these principles into practice, while also making the case for bit.bio throughout 2022 and beyond. As UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said, “we have a unique opportunity to empower our economy and our society, putting research and innovation at their heart” and bit.bio stands ready to help drive this aim into reality.

 


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