Strategic Plans For Synthetic Biology In The UK

Synthetic BiologyThe Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman MP has launched the UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016. The ‘Biodesign for the Bioeconomy’ plan builds on the success of the 2012 Synthetic Biology Roadmap for the UK with a strong focus on the applications of the technology, in particular it focuses on five strategic areas:

  • Accelerating industrialisation and commercialisation
  • Maximising the capability of the innovation pipeline
  • Building an expert workforce
  • Developing a supportive business environment, and
  • Building value from national and international partnerships.

The report highlights the potential of the bioeconomy and identifies the need for early technology funding such as that provided by the Rainbow Seed Fund, the only specialist synthetic biology fund in the UK. The plan is authored by the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC) following discussions with businesses and the research community and the first companies from the UK’s investment in synthetic biology are now emerging from the Synthetic Biology Research Centres (SBRCs) and the SynbiCITE Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), part of the UK Government’s Synthetic Biology for Growth programme.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP said in a statement: “With help from government investment in world-class research facilities, including £50m for dedicated research centres, DNA facilities and training, UK capability in synthetic biology has made rapid progress in recent years… This strategy sets out a clear plan to ensure the UK maintains its position as a global leader by taking our world-leading research and turning it into commercial opportunities.”

The plan has received support from UK synthetic biology companies, including Synthace, which closed a £2.2 million funding round with investors including the Rainbow Seed Fund in February 2015. Other supporters include Prokarium,Synpromics, and Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. By creating a strategic plan, the UK government has confirmed that it is behind synthetic biology, describing it as one of its ‘Eight Great Technologies’.

The team at Rainbow is delighted the plan focuses firmly on the commercialisation of synthetic biology, emphasising the potential and the need for this powerful capability and was excited that the Minister mentioned us during his launch speech. The Rainbow team is looking forward to continuing to help great technology develop into great companies.