Synbio in the UK – A decade of developments

19 September 2019

The Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC) has published an overview of UK synbio activities in the last decade.

A great deal of progress has been made since a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009, highlighted synbio as an emerging and enabling technology, capable of providing cross sector solutions in areas ranging from health and chemicals to agritech and materials.

A decade on:

  • over £300m of public funding has been invested into synthetic biology research and capability in the UK.
  • six Synthetic Biology Research Centres (SBRCs) and five DNA synthesis facilities have been established.
  • centres for doctoral training and a dedicated Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) ensure the education and maintenance of a skilled synbio research base.
  • the UK has a strategic plan for synthetic biology to translate synbio opportunities into commercial outcomes.
  • over 150 start-up and spin out synbio companies have been founded.
  • a synbio community and network through KTN’s Synbio SIG have been established.

The SBLC's report also highlights the role of Innogen in governing the innovation ecosystem by developing a framework on Proportionate and Adaptive Governance of Innovative Technologies (PAGIT). This has contributed significantly to the UK Government’s programme on Reforming the Governance of Technological Innovation, which will support a smarter approach to regulating the products of gene editing and synthetic biology.  

This report is an important part of the SBLC strategy to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront internationally of synthetic biology and gene editing research which will drive future innovative sectors of the UK economy,” says Joyce Tait, Innogen co-director and SBLC member.

Download the report here.