Posted by Mark Turner, BEIS · March 28, 2017 2:54 PM
Life sciences are at the heart of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy - with a focus on pharma and biotech, it’s encouraging to note that among the 10 pillars is investment in science, research and innovation. This is a brilliant continuation of the encouragement given to Industrial Biotechnology (IB) in the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund announcement, a sector specifically exampled as the kind of innovation that Government is keen to support.
The UK is rich in quality academic and industry resources to make IB a key sector for our economy. This new investment opportunity is a chance for us to add further support to developing and growing a range of IB technologies and applications and we will be working with industry and with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to help bring forward business cases to capitalise on this call.
IB should be high on the agenda. Its main focus is to engineer new pathways to sustainable chemical ingredients and to provide new value chains across sector opportunities, including turning waste and low value streams from one process into the feedstock for another. The UK is not massively endowed with vast amounts of ligno-cellulosic biomass, but we could do more to valorise our own wastes and residues and so minimise imports where possible. We could do more to realise the huge opportunities to be had from the innovative processing of bio-waste: from municipal solid waste to industrial waste gases we could be making everything from biofuel, fish protein, sugars for pharmaceuticals and high value chemicals here in the UK over the next few years. The bioeconomy opportunity realised through IB in the UK is about making the most of some of our domestic feedstocks to create high-value chemicals and fuels will be an important factor in the sustainability and resilience of the UK post-Brexit. Part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy role is to help facilitate more cross-sector growth discussions and partnerships so that we can spot the synergies and symbiotic opportunities.