Bio-researchers of the future get £22.5 million boost

Circular malting of barley

The next generation of researchers in bioscience have received a £22.5 million investment from UK government.

The Collaborative Training Partnerships (CTP) scheme run by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will address skills gaps in UK bioscience industry through doctoral training led by businesses.

The collaborative partnerships will work across the council’s strategic priority areas such as:

  • net zero+
  • tackling infections
  • transformative technologies
  • others.

The 225 studentships, in partnership with academia and industry, span 29 businesses and 12 academic research organisations.

The scheme includes several new companies and partnerships to the CTP programme and covers a diverse range of business sizes and sectors.

The four-year studentships will be delivered over the period 2022 to 2028 with £22.5 million of funding from BBSRC, and more than £14 million cash and in-kind co-investment from industry partners.

Grant holders

Grant holders include:

Exscientia

Together with its partnering organisations, Exscientia will train researchers to apply cutting-edge artificial intelligence expertise to the discovery and development of new potential medicines

The Food Consortium (Mondelez, Nestlé, Pepsico, Samworth Brothers, Campden BRI and the Haydn Green Institute, Nottingham University Business School)

The consortium will supply talent for the UK food and drink sector.

The partnership will provide training and skills to support net zero targets by creating value from unavoidable waste and by-products in agriculture and food, as well as exploring the impact of nutritional quality on consumer health

Oxford Biomedica

Oxford Biomedica will deliver doctoral training in the underpinning bioscience of viral products for future cell and gene therapies and vaccines.

In partnership with University College London (UCL) and the University of Oxford, they will train the next generation of bioscience leaders to be at the forefront of developing viral products for novel cell and gene therapies and vaccines

Unilever

Unilever will build on previous CTP support to continue capacity building in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector

The Procter and Gamble (P&G) consortium

This consortium will focus on the FMCG sector, developing the expertise needed to use bioprocesses to establish sustainable manufacturing processes for clean growth. The partnership will also build capacity into the bioscience skills base in the North East of England.

Grant holders criteria

The grants were awarded against criteria including:

  • building doctoral capacity across sectors and industries of the UK bioeconomy
  • developing enterprising candidates with specialist research and transferable skills for modern bioscience and the wider economy
  • building an inclusive and supportive environment for candidates.

Supporting the next generation of researchers

BBSRC Executive Chair, Professor Melanie Welham said:

With the awards we have announced today, BBSRC underlines its commitment to work with industry to support the next generation of bioscience researchers. Projects will span areas vital to our strategic priorities, such as tackling infections and helping to meet our net zero goals.

Educational opportunities

Samantha Samaras, VP Science & Technology, Clinicals, Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever research and development (R&D) said:

We are so pleased to continue our partnership-led CTP, to deliver first class training, coaching and educational opportunities for our scientists of the future.

The studentships will be placed across Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care (BPC) & Home Care (HC) Divisions, and our centre for excellence in Safety and Sustainability Sciences (SEAC).

Students will have a significant focus on human bioscience, biotechnology, and microbiology.

We look forward to deepening our relationship with BBSRC and our long-standing associate partners, the University of Liverpool and London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programme (LIDo). Together we will inspire, foster and support the next generation of science leaders.

Appreciation of innovation

Derek Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Babraham Research Campus Ltd said:

The Babraham Research Campus offers a dynamic and supportive community for life scientists and entrepreneurs across academic and commercial research. We are excited to partner with the Babraham Institute and welcome a cohort of students who will be able to benefit from our extensive expertise and receive access to unique, world class academic and commercial training opportunities.

This partnership will not only provide an outstanding experience for our students but also support early stage companies by providing access to on-site, talented PhD students and their academic labs.

This investment means that from the start of their careers, researchers will bridge both academic and commercial spheres, being influenced by the best of both sectors to create cross-disciplinary, commercially-aware researchers with a unique in-depth appreciation of innovation.

Supporting the UK skincare industry

Dr Mike Bell, Head of Science Research, The Boots Company plc said:

Boots is honoured to be partnering with BBSRC on this exciting initiative that will help doctoral scientists develop both their business acumen and research skills. Achieving better skin health can lead to healthier and happier lives and this programme will develop the next generation of scientists with the necessary skills to support the UK skincare industry in helping customers care for their skin.

Delivering cutting-edge bioscience research

Dr James Miskin, Chief Technical Officer, Oxford Biomedica, and Director of the Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products Collaborative Training Partnership (ABViP CTP), said:

The ABViP CTP is aimed at delivering a comprehensive and multidisciplinary training programme and creating a robust pipeline of high-calibre doctoral graduates with the necessary skills and capabilities to support this high-value growth sector.

Through this partnership, we will build capacity of the doctoral-level research and innovation workforce, and increase the UK’s resilience against global healthcare challenges by delivering cutting-edge bioscience research within the wider regulatory and commercial context.

Developing high level translational skills

Professor James Brosnan CTP Lead (Director of the Scotch Whisky Research Institute and Chairman of the International Barley Hub), said:

The barley supply chain has come together under the umbrella of the International Barley Hub to work in partnership to achieve government and industry targets to reach net zero carbon emissions and to underpin the future climate resilience of barley as a major global crop.

The Barley Industry Training Network (BARIToNE) CTP will create a new generation of scientifically diverse barley experts to become sustainability leaders in industry and academia over the coming decades.

Under the CTP scheme they will have the opportunity to develop high level technical and translational skills and forge a strong professional network to be the foundation for their future careers. The 18 industry partners in BARIToNE all believe that this CTP will be a major lever to deliver barley sustainability through training talented people.

Professor Katherine Smart (Global Technical Director, Diageo Supply Chain & Procurement) added:

This partnership will focus on important research into the climate resilience of barley and the improvement of growing practices, such as reducing the need for fertiliser and improving the quality of barley in areas of the world worst hit by climate change. Our partnership will also develop talented scientists for future research in these critical fields.

Developments within sustainable agriculture are vital to Diageo as we work towards “Society 2030: Spirit of Progress”, our ten year sustainability action plan.

Sustainable consumer products

Jerry Porter Senior VP, R&D, Procter & Gamble, said:

We are very excited to secure this BBSRC collaborative training partnership on bioscience for sustainable consumer products. We see this as a unique opportunity to train a new generation of bioscientists and grow the skills needed to fuel the UK economy in the future.

We look forward to seeing what creative new solutions and ideas this partnership will open up to help address some of the fundamental challenges we face as a company and a society on how to decarbonise industry and deliver on the race to net zero.

This programme builds on strong and long-lasting relationships between P&G, Prozomix, Durham, Northumbria and Newcastle Universities. We expect this partnership to help P&G develop new insights and solutions through collaboration on cutting edge bioscience that will ultimately help accelerate our action on climate change toward net zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations and supply chain by 2040.

Bringing together food manufacturers

Dr Victoria Fuller, Mondelez, said:

The Food Consortium CTP is timely, unique and unprecedented, bringing together food manufacturers with a significant R&D base in the UK.

Together with the largest UK based independent science and technology provider and trainer for the food industry (Campden BRI) and the Haydn Green Institute (Nottingham University business school) at the forefront of creating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation to connect ideas, people and communities to respond to societal, environmental and economic challenges and drive positive change through innovation.

We can’t wait to get started!

Further information

Full list of grant holders

Lead organisation

Partner organisations

Total studentships (over three intakes)

The Scotch Whisky Research Institute University of Dundee
James Hutton Institute
University of Nottingham
30
Exscientia plc Merck Sharp & Dohme (UK) Ltd
Heptares Therapeutics Limited
Queen Mary University of London
15
Smith + Nephew plc (UK) National Biofilms Innovation Centre
Unilever
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
BP plc
Chilled Food Association
5D Health Protection Group
Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC)
Kohler Co
University of Southampton
University of Edinburgh
University of Liverpool
University of Nottingham
15
The Food Consortium (Mondelez UK R and D Ltd) Mondelez
Campden BRI
Nestle
PepsiCo
Samworth Brothers
Hayden Green Institute
Nottingham University Business School
28
Oxford Biomedica (UK) Ltd University College London
University of Oxford
18
G’s Growers Limited Sainsbury’s
Pepsi Co
Syngenta
Solynta
James Hutton Ltd
Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO)
Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association (CUPGRA)
Morley Agricultural Foundation (TMAF)
National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB)
James Hutton Institute
University of Cambridge
30
Unilever 35
Babraham Research Campus Ltd Babraham Institute 15
Procter & Gamble Technical Centres Ltd (UK) 24
The Boots Company Plc 15

About CTP

Collaborative Training Partnerships co-invest in training the next generation of skilled people for the research base and wider bioeconomy.

Our vision is to provide PhD students with a first-rate, challenging research training experience within the context of a mutually beneficial research collaboration, between academic and partner organisations.

Top image: Circular malting of barley, credit: Scotch Whisky Research Institute

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