Biomanufacturing innovation is being encouraged with a new competition that offers up to £100,000 in funding for new solutions.
Biomanufacturing is key to economic growth and Innovate UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will support cross-sector collaborations to expand research, innovation and commercialisation in UK sustainable biomanufacturing.
If harnessed to its maximum potential, bio-manufacturing can play a critical role in achieving the UK government’s ambition to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
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. Bio-manufacturing 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.
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.
The competition promotes collaboration between businesses and academic researchers to develop more sustainable bio-based products, biotechnology processes and innovations.
Successful proposals will support biomanufacturing organisations to be: net zero and resource efficient; resilient and responsive; technologically advanced and digital.
Proposals will also address the challenge of developing innovations in sustainable biomanufacturing processes by: increasing the use of bio-based feedstocks; developing alternative bio-based chemical replacements; enhancing the sustainability profile of biotechnology processes; making innovative use and re-use of renewable feedstocks; developing biotechnology based manufacture processes for sustainable and circular products.
To ensure funding supports a variety of projects across different technologies, themes and markets, a portfolio approach will be adopted when assessing competition proposals.
The closing date for competition proposals is 1 February 2023.
“Biomanufacturing offers a wealth of opportunity, both for the UK and on a global scale,” said Dr Lee Beniston, associate director for industry partnerships and collaboration at BBSRC. “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.”
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.”