New £100 million engineering biology fund

​​​​​​Funding for six new UKRI Engineering Biology Mission Hubs and 22 Mission Award projects, that will unlock the potential of engineering biology, was announced today by Andrew Griffith, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

Engineering Biology has enormous potential to address global challenges, drive economic growth, and increase national security, resilience, and preparedness. These Mission Hubs and Awards projects will play a key role in achieving the goals of government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology that was announced in December 2023.

The Hubs will each receive up to £12 million from the UKRI Technology Missions Fund and UKRI and BBSRC’s core budgets. They will be funded for five years, be based across the country, and involve multiple academic and industrial partners.

The successful Hubs will be led by:

  • Cranfield University
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Kent
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Portsmouth

This week minister Griffith visited the new GlycoCell Hub based at the University of Nottingham to understand how it is helping to exploit engineering biology to produce new vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, by industrialising the bio-manufacture of sugar biomolecules crucial to their development.

This Hub aims to deliver a platform that will be central to UK epidemic preparedness.

Announcing the funding the Science, Research and Innovation Minister, Andrew Griffith, said:

“Engineering biology has the power to transform our health and environment, from developing life-saving medicines to protecting our environment and food supply and beyond.

“Our latest £100 million investment through the UKRI Technology Missions Fund will unlock projects as diverse as developing vaccines, as I saw Nottingham this week, preventing food waste through disease resistant crops, reducing plastic pollution, and even driving efforts to treat snakebites.

“With new Hubs and Mission Awards spread across the country, from Edinburgh to Portsmouth, we are supporting ambitious researchers and innovators around the UK in pioneering groundbreaking new solutions which can transform how we live our lives, while growing our economy.”

The Hubs will be complemented by a series of Mission Awards that will fund projects for two years and receive a share of £30 million funding. The Awards aim to create an expansion of engineering biology disciplines and communities, building on existing UK strengths and emerging opportunities.

Dr Amanda Collis, UKRI Technology Mission Director for Engineering Biology and interim Deputy Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) said:

“UKRI is investing £100 million to unlock the potential of Engineering Biology across a broad range of applications, tackling major global challenges and stimulating economic growth.

“This investment builds upon the UK’s significant strengths in Engineering Biology.  The Hubs and Mission Awards will support collaboration between disciplines, with business, and across the regions and nations of the UK, as well as enable partnership with other countries.  Together they make an important contribution towards realizing the ambitions set out in the UK Government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology.”

Steve Bates OBE, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association, said:

“This week’s announcements will help ensure the UK is at the forefront of shaping the future of Deep Biotech and championing its disruptive potential for tackling issues like biosecurity, food security and climate change. The BIA looks forward to linking the UK’s innovative start-ups and scale-ups with the university-led hubs and missions to grow the UK’s sustainable competitive advantage in this cutting-edge field. It was doubly pleasing to see Michelle Donelan MP unveil the new announcements in the week we launched of our new report, "Deep Biotech: Disruptive innovation for global sustainability", showing policy makers are awake to the innovation happening in our sector.”

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