The Northwest of England is set to become a global hub for Industrial Biotechnology (IB) innovation, thanks to the launch of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Catalyst (IBIC).
IBIC is a collaborative initiative, led by The University of Manchester, aimed at harnessing the region's scientific and research expertise to accelerate knowledge exchange, impact, and innovation, while fostering a more productive, research-intensive economy and promoting sustainability.
Industrial Biotechnology is a multi-disciplinary field that utilises biological resources for everyday product development, including food, fuels, and medicines. It is poised for significant growth with a market potential exceeding £34 billion in the UK alone. The confluence of consumer demand, carbon emission targets, and technological advancements requires new approaches to manufacturing, especially using methods that are divested of petrochemical feedstocks, and industrial biotechnology offers the solutions.
Together with the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan, Bolton and Salford, The University of Manchester will lead a consortium of academia and industry and create a cohesive ecosystem for IB innovation. The new £5million EPSRC Place-Based Impact Acceleration Account (PBIAA) builds on an existing critical mass of IB expertise in the Northwest including the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology’s pioneering work (recognised by a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2019), major healthcare and biomanufacturing companies like AstraZeneca, Teva, Croda, and Unilever. As well as thriving SME innovation zones, including Daresbury, Liverpool Knowledge Quarter, and Alderley Park, the UK's largest life science campus.
Aline Miller, Principal Investigator, Professor of Biomolecular Engineering and Associate Dean for Business Engagement and Innovation said:
The IBIC will unite industry, academia, and local government to produce a complete pipeline of industrial biotechnology innovation that can be used to address imperative global challenges such as climate change and meeting net zero targets, while creating a more sustainable society.
We are excited to work with our partners to create this ecosystem that will support the thriving community here in the Northwest. We are fortunate that we have such good foundations to build on which naturally allows us to take the next step to making the region, and the UK, leaders in industrial biotechnology.
Professor Miles Padgett, Interim Executive Chair at EPSRC, said:
“I’m pleased to announce our first ten Place Based Impact Acceleration Accounts which will play a unique role in enhancing the capabilities of innovation clusters across the UK. A key priority for UKRI is to strengthen clusters and partnerships in collaboration with civic bodies and businesses, thereby driving regional economic growth.”
Science Minister, George Freeman, said: “Biotechnology delivers for our health, planet, prosperity and beyond and by targeting the North-West through our £41m place-based investment, we can build on the region’s thriving innovation cluster and better integrate the UK’s renowned research activity.
“Our investment will also create hundreds of new jobs, projects and businesses that will in turn drive investment to the region to grow the local and wider UK economy.”
Dr Damian Kelly, Vice President – Innovation & Technology Development at Croda is fully supportive of the initiative:
“At Croda we are committed to be climate, land and people positive by 2030. We work to identify functional materials that can be manufactured from widely available, non-fossil materials while also developing low emission processing. We are looking forward to being an active member of the IBIC ecosystem and engaging with the collaborative mechanisms.”
The launch of IBIC is expected to stimulate significant investments, create numerous job opportunities, foster collaborative projects, and drive economic growth across the region. Building upon the region’s current credentials of a workforce of 25,000 people and a more than £6 billion turnover each year, the cluster is predicted to directly stimulate £2.5M cash and £4M in-kind co-investment, establish 150 collaborative projects, train 200+ students, create up to 100 green jobs, and establish 20+ new commercial ventures which could attract a further £10M in investment.
This would see the cluster delivering a minimum 3:1 economic return on public investment over the medium term, with long-term plans to become an independent, business-led cluster of excellence.
For more information about IBIC and its initiatives, contact Professor Miller via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.