UKRI paves the way for a future engineering biology programme

DNA concept art

UKRI is working closely with the Defence Science Technology Laboratory to establish a new national engineering biology programme.

UKRI, including BBSRC, EPSRC, Innovate UK, MRC, and NERC, is working closely with partners and has announced two new funding opportunities in engineering biology. There will be one for breakthrough ideas (12-month awards) and the second will be for transition awards (up to 24 months).

What is engineering biology?

Engineering biology encompasses the wider capabilities that support the exploitation of synthetic biology knowledge for economic and public benefit.

To understand engineering biology, it’s vital to recognise synthetic biology which serves as the foundation for the programme.

Synthetic biology is the design, engineering and re-engineering of biologically based parts, devices and systems.

As an emerging technology, it has the potential to transform many sectors and help address major global grand challenges including:

  • decarbonisation
  • health and wellbeing
  • energy
  • food security
  • environmental management.

From enabling new vaccines for medicine, new materials for defence and transport, plastic-free packaging, improved fibres for sports clothing, and opportunities for bioremediation and agricultural production, engineering biology has application across many sectors.

It can make a significant contribution to delivering government strategies including the clean growth strategy (PDF, 5MB), the UK life sciences strategy (GOV.UK), the UK’s industrial strategy (PDF, 9MB), ‘growing the bioeconomy (PDF, 2MB)’ and Defra’s 25 year environment plan (GOV.UK).

Engineering biology aims

UKRI continues to work towards establishing a proposed National Engineering Biology Programme (NEBP), and have defined the following short term aims and objectives:

  • building on the existing foundations – UKRI aims to provide the opportunity to retain and sustain the UK’s world leading capability in engineering biology
  • building momentum and bridging capability – UKRI aims to support the transition of the UK community towards the vision and model of the proposed NEBP, across disciplines and sectors.

Further information

Engineering biology webinars

We have scheduled two community webinars:

  • 28 June, 13:00-14:00
  • 1 July, 10:30-11:30

These events will provide further details on the opportunities. If you would like to participate, please note that the same content will be presented at both sessions and you need only register for one of the two meetings, via the links above.

Further details will become available on the UKRI funding finder in the coming weeks.

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