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Research Councils UK response to the publication of BioDesign for the Bioeconomy: UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016


The Research Councils welcome the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council’s (SBLC) publication of ‘BioDesign for the Bioeconomy’.

Reflecting the successful development of a strong synthetic biology research base in recent years, the strategic plan focuses on translation and commercialisation. 

As the publication states it is important to maintain a strong underpinning research portfolio and the Research Councils are committed to building on their recent investments.

Since the publication of the 2012 “A synthetic biology roadmap for the UK”, the Research Councils have worked closely with other funders to build a vibrant research and innovation community around synthetic biology. As the new publication recognises, this includes the Synthetic Biology for Growth Programme, a £102M investment comprising:

  • Six new multidisciplinary synthetic biology research centres
  • A network of DNA synthesis research centres
  • Two capital investments in training centres
  • Seed funding for innovative companies

These are in addition to the Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Centres for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology, and existing centres and networks of research groups, encompassing more than 30 universities spanning the UK. Together these provide a UK-wide research and development foundation of international significance.

Key to establishing these firm foundations has been a partnership between the Research Councils to jointly fund multidisciplinary research effort at the interface of bioscience and engineering.  However, there is still considerable fundamental, foundational research work that needs to be done. Research Councils will continue to support world-class research vital to maintaining a portfolio of UK synthetic biology projects to ensure a continuous flow of underpinning research and platform technologies to pump-prime the innovation pipeline.

We welcome the plan’s acknowledgement that synthetic biology can support a vibrant bioeconomy and will continue to work in partnership with Innovate UK, other funders and industry partners to further support the translation of the research into application.

The Research Councils will actively consider the recommendations of relevance to us in our strategic planning in the coming months and years. We look forward to working with the SBLC, Innovate UK and other stakeholders to continue to drive responsible research and innovation in synthetic biology.

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Further information

RCUK Communications Team
Tel: 01793 444387 or email:

Notes to editors

  1. To view the UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016 — Biodesign for the Bioeconomy visit:

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