Transformative Technologies

Transformative Technologies (TT) is highlighted as contributing to the ‘Advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery’ theme within the Forward Look for UK Bioscience.

The TT theme develops the tools, technologies and approaches that enable researchers to push the boundaries of bioscience discovery and stimulate innovation. Strategy development in the TT area is informed by the TT Strategy Advisory Panel (TT SAP), which brings together experts from academia and industry to advise the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

New ways of working

Cutting-edge bioscience is critically dependent on the availability of modern research infrastructure and the adoption of new ways of working. There are four main thematic areas.

Technology development

World-class bioscience is critically dependent on new technologies, methodologies and resources.

Advances in research often involve the development or application of new tools and technologies and, increasingly, data-intensive and predictive approaches to biological discovery, for example in genomics or artificial intelligence.

The broader availability of, or access to, advanced tools and technologies supports the embedding of advanced methodologies across the research community and the wider democratisation of science.

The emergence and exploitation of disruptive technologies can open transformative new opportunities for research and business innovation.

Research infrastructure

In order to facilitate ground-breaking research in an internationally competitive environment and investigate complex biological phenomena, researchers need access to state-of-the-art comprehensive, integrated and interoperable digital and biological research infrastructure, facilities and resources, built to community-accepted standards.

Data intensive research

The development and innovation of new data-intensive approaches through software tools and algorithms that enable computational dependent analysis, data integration and modelling provide the capability to process the volume and complexity of biological research data from transformative technologies, ultimately enabling unique insights and discoveries.

Engineering biology

Engineering biology is the process of taking synthetic biology concepts and translating them into real-world solutions. It is the design and fabrication of biological components and systems using engineering technologies and principles, from modification to natural systems through to artificial biology. Consequently, engineering biology encompasses the entire innovation ecosystem, from breakthrough synthetic biology research to translational and application.

Transformative Technologies Strategy Advisory Panel

The TT SAP, and its associated expert working groups, provide advice to BBSRC on the strategic direction of its research, training and knowledge exchange portfolio in areas relevant to TT. This is in order to maintain the competitiveness of the UK in line with the Forward Look for UK Bioscience.

Working groups are established in order to provide in-depth strategic advice on a particular topic and normally meet two or three times. Recent TT SAP working groups have considered Data-intensive Bioscience and Technology Development.

Annual calls

Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund

The Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund was established to tackle a strategic need, identified by BBSRC, to provide ‘proper support for resources such as databases, genetic resources and culture collections which require long term maintenance and curation’ and plays an important role in enabling data sharing in the biosciences, as mandated by our data sharing policy.

Search funding opportunities.

Tools and Resources Development Fund

Through the first call of the Tools and Resources Development Fund, which launches annually in June/July, we support small or short-duration, pump-priming projects that enable excellent bioscience, encourage applications that develop novel tools, technologies and methods spanning the breadth of BBSRC research and underpin in the long-run all of our strategic priorities and the wider biosciences.

This call was not held in 2021 while the review of Technology Development was ongoing.

Looking ahead

BBSRC will continue to support developments in tools, technologies and approaches that enable researchers to push the boundaries of scientific discovery and stimulate innovation.

Through the delivery of targeted initiatives, such as the Engineering Biology Breakthrough and Transition awards, BBSRC will support emerging areas and ensure researchers are able to take advantage of the latest cutting edge developments.

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Transformative Technologies Team


Last updated: 16 March 2023

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