Engineering biology (including synthetic biology) applies rigorous engineering principles to designing biological systems, with potentially ground-breaking applications across a host of sectors: food, chemicals, materials, water, energy, health and environmental protection. From clothes made of spider silk to fake meat, or using microbes to manufacture fuels, engineering biology techniques are starting to provide sustainable solutions to many of our current challenges. In doing so they are creating new businesses that could make a huge contribution to the UK economy and disrupt existing industries with faster, greener and cheaper products and processes.
The UK is currently an engineering biology leader, with a strong academic base, established infrastructure and a thriving community of SMEs – but action is needed both from outside and within the sector to support, consolidate and unify engineering biology, to ensure it can return benefits to the UK and that our highly successful researchers, ideas and companies are not lost to global competitors.
On Wednesday 27 November the Royal Academy of Engineering will publish a report on the current situation and recommendations for the future – Engineering biology: A priority for growth.
Journalists came to the SMC to hear from the Chair of the working group that produced the report, as well as engineering biology researchers and entrepreneurs.
Ian Shott CBE FREng, Working Group Chair and Managing Partner, Shott Trinova LLP
Henrik Hagemann, Co-founder and CEO of SME Puraffinity (formerly CustoMem)
Professor Eriko Takano, Professor of Synthetic Biology and director of the Synthetic Biology Research Centre at the University of Manchester
Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive Officer of the BioIndustry Association (BIA)