UK biofilm capability boosted by new funding

Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation. Biofilm formation of B. subtilis on LBGM medium

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK invest £7.5 million to support National Biofilms Innovation Centre phase 2 roll out.

Future proofing world-class innovation

Announced during Biofilm Week, the new funding from BBSRC and Innovate UK is a joint investment as part of their new strategic partnership announced last week.

The funding builds upon the National Biofilms Innovation Centre’s (NBIC) collective strength as the UK’s national centre and will support the continued expansion of world-class research and innovation.

In addition, NBIC has secured a further £9.5 million funding from its 4 lead universities (Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton) as well as £6.4 million from industrial support.

This takes NBIC’s phase 2 funding to a total of £23.4 million.

Delivering breakthrough science and technologies

NBIC is a UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre that exists to create a fusion of world-class interdisciplinary research and industry partnerships.

Together, they aim to deliver breakthrough science and technologies to control and exploit biofilms.

NBIC was launched in 2017 by its 4 lead universities and is led by 4 co-directors:

  • Professor Cait MacPhee
  • Professor Rasmita Raval
  • Professor Miguel Cámara
  • Professor Jeremy Webb

Since its inception, the centre has expanded partnerships with 59 research institutions and more than 150 companies across the UK.

Tackling global challenges

Biofilms are central to our most important global challenges, from antimicrobial resistance and food safety to water security.

They also provide a significant contribution to both the UK and global economy.

In May 2022, a study carried out by NBIC estimated that the value of the markets in which biofilms are involved is worth £45 billion in the UK and $4 trillion globally.

To date, NBIC has collaborated with over 150 industrial, research and public partners in the UK and overseas to develop joint-industry programmes that are tackling major economic and societal issues.

Delivering a global innovation hub

BBSRC and Innovate UK’s new funding will support NBIC’s vision to deliver a global innovation hub by building on its collective strengths to prevent, detect, manage and engineer biofilms.

It will enable NBIC to drive the adoption of innovative solutions across industry sectors to address major global challenges such as:

  • climate change
  • water safety
  • improved healthcare

It will also drive step-changes in standards and regulation for novel biofilm solutions that support international trade.

Phase 2 will also see NBIC deliver a diverse training programme to equip the biofilm innovation ecosystem with the skills they need both now and in the future.

It will also help to nurture the talent of tomorrow.

Leadership for the future

This funding comes at the same time as NBIC announces its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Jo Slater-Jefferies.

Professor Slater-Jefferies joined NBIC in April 2018.

As the new NBIC CEO, she brings a wealth of experience and leadership in knowledge exchange, academic and industry collaboration and strategic research programmes.

BBSRC and Innovate UK’s latest investment means work can continue across sectors and disciplines to identify new areas of opportunity.

NBIC’s work around the development of innovative technologies in translational research will help to address the detrimental effects of biofilms while exploiting the significant benefits they bring.

Building on success

Dr Lee Beniston FRSB, Associate Director for Industry Partnerships and Collaboration at BBSRC, said:

I am delighted to announce a further £7.5 million joint investment from BBSRC and Innovate UK in support of NBIC phase 2.

This builds upon our £12.5 million investment from phase 1.

On behalf of BBSRC, I congratulate Professor Slater-Jefferies on her appointment as the new CEO of NBIC.

This is a vital strategic partnership investment for BBSRC and Innovate UK that has delivered outstanding impacts over the past 5 years.

I am therefore pleased that BBSRC and Innovate UK will continue to take a joint approach to co-investing in, and providing strategic support for, NBIC over the next 5 years.

Translating research into industry

Richard Hebdon, Director for Health and Life Sciences at Innovate UK, said:

NBIC has established itself as a key part of the UK’s life sciences ecosystem and supports innovation through to commercialisation.

It enables businesses to access partners, facilities and funding while providing a single point of contact for advice and support.

As well as making the UK more attractive to inward investment by driving the development and adoption of international standards, it promotes UK research and innovation on the international stage.

NBIC has demonstrated that it can effectively drive the translation of research into industry and create a pipeline of cross-disciplinary, industry-ready skills and talent.

Innovate UK congratulates Professor Slater-Jefferies on her appointment to the role of CEO.

This is an exciting time for NBIC, as Innovate UK and BBSRC commit to funding the national centre for the next 5 years.

Delivering a global vision

Professor Jo Slater-Jefferies, newly appointed CEO at NBIC, said:

Over the last 5 years NBIC has become an internationally renowned Innovation and Knowledge Centre.

It connects the UK’s biofilm research and innovation ecosystem to enable the translation of biofilm research to benefit the economy, society and the environment.

This award will enable NBIC to tackle challenging research and innovation questions in the biofilm field, make step changes in biofilm standards and regulations and train the next generation of thought leaders and entrepreneurs.

I am delighted to be appointed as the CEO for NBIC, and I look forward to working with the 4 NBIC co-directors and the global biofilms community in delivering our vision.

Further information

Find out more about NBIC’s achievements to date and future plans for the phase 2 roll out in their 2022 annual report.

Top image:  Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation. Biofilm formation of B. subtilis on LBGM medium. Credit: Maria Paula Huertas Caycedo, University of Dundee

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