Innovate UK

Innovate UK

Introduction

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the UK Government in 2007. Its mission is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life.

The Technology Strategy Board promotes innovation in many ways. As well as investing in programmes and projects, much of our work is in spreading knowledge, understanding policy, spotting opportunities and bringing people together to solve problems or make new advances.

To prioritise and guide our work, we have identified a number of technology areas and application areas where efforts will be focused. We also use other approaches to targeting our activities - particularly Innovation Platforms and Emerging technologies.

Biosciences is one of our technology areas and industrial biotechnology is one of its three pillars, the other two being genomics and agriculture-food. Within the industrial biotechnology theme, the goal is the discovery and use of biological systems for novel products and processes. A number of biosciences-inspired technologies will help us reach this goal:

  • Discovery tools to identify novel properties from organisms
  • Biocatalysts for more efficient chemical conversions
  • Biorefineries as multi-product production plants

 

We work closely with a number of other organisations, including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (bbsrc). The bbsrc’s mission is to promote and support, by any means, high-quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training relating to the understanding and exploitation of biological systems. To advance knowledge and technology (including the promotion and support of the exploitation of research outcomes), and provide trained scientists and engineers, which meet the needs of users and beneficiaries (including the agriculture, bioprocessing, chemical, food, healthcare, pharmaceutical and other biotechnological related industries), thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom and the quality of life.

Funding in industrial biotechnology

The Technology Strategy Board has a budget from 2008-2011 of £1 billion. The spending profile from 2010-2011 will be 50% on challenge-led innovation, 25% on technology-inspired innovation and 25% on the innovation climate. The DTI ran several competitions in industrial biotechnology, for which we have now taken over management of the winning projects. In 2004, we funded 9 projects on ‘Bio-Based Industrial Products and Processes’ at a total project value of £7 million and in 2006 £7.5 million was invested in 14 projects on ‘Exploitation of Bioscience for Industry.’

The Technology Strategy Board supports a number of Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTN) which are national networks in a specific field of technology or business application, which brings together people from businesses, universities, research, finance and technology organisations in order to stimulate innovation through knowledge transfer and sharing of ideas.

Later in 2009, a Biosciences KTN will be formed which will support the industrial biotechnology community. It will continue the partnership, began by the Bioscience for Business KTN, with bbsrc of the Integrated Biorefinery Technologies Initiative Research and Technology Club (IBTI). The club funds research projects which support the development of biological processes for the production of chemicals, materials and polymers to replace petro-chemical derived sources. The club will invest around £5M (BBSRC £4M, Industry £730K) in industrially-relevant, innovative, basic biological research in biorefining technologies.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is the placement of a high calibre, recently-qualified individual into a business to work on innovation projects. Increasing business interaction with the university ‘knowledge base,' it provides company-based training for graduates at the same time as delivering real benefits for the business. In 2009, nearly 1000 KTPs are running – many in the life sciences, including industrial biotechnology. The bbsrc also funds KTPs in areas that match its priority areas.
 
Current and future national calls that include Industrial Biotechnology

In October 2009, there will be a Competition for innovative Industrial Biotechnology projects.  It is being run by the Technology Strategy Board on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The “High Value Chemicals” competition is part of the Government’s New Industry New Jobs initiative and is offering a total of £2.5 million for UK company-led projects. 

The competition will support projects of less than one year looking at how industrial biotechnology can be applied to the production of high value chemicals such as platform chemicals or novel biochemicals. The development of new biofuels is not within scope unless part of a multi-product project.

More information and details of the competition will be available soon on www.innovateuk.org which includes more details on the Technology Strategy Board. More information on the bbsrc can be found at www.bbsrc.ac.uk