Category: News

Industrial Biotechnology Seeding Catalyst Awards

New funding call open

We have six Industrial Biotechnology Seeding Catalyst Awards (IBSCA) available. Each award is up to £25,000, funded at full economic cost for projects of up to 3-months duration. There is no obligation to have an industry partner or industry funding. These awards will fund direct costs only, at 100% FEC. This includes travel and salaries, but not estate costs or overheads.

All projects must be completed, reported upon and invoiced for no later than February 28th 2018. This date is not negotiable, and if not met, monies cannot be transferred.

The closing date for applications is September 30th, but applications will be reviewed as soon as they are submitted. We will aim to give a decision within 3 weeks of application being received, and no later than October 31st for applications received on the deadline.

Please download the application form here.
Send completed forms and any questions to both Charlotte Harrison and Joanne Flannelly.

Eligible activities for funding include (but are not be limited to):
– Proof-of-concept studies
– Access to scale-up and facilities to demonstrate commercial potential of an idea/technology
– Development and surveillance of market intelligence including IP landscape analysis/freedom to operate, regulatory analysis, development of exploitation plans
– Development of market or product demonstrators.

The projects should align with the remit of BioProNET [the use of cells and their components (that is, bioprocessing) to produce biologics, which we define as products that are composed of proteins (such as antibodies), peptides, RNA, DNA or vaccines] as well as the aims and objectives of the IBSCA call, which are:

1. To develop and progress ideas and technology within the scope and remit of BioProNET and the call along the technology readiness level (TRL) pathway
2. To further develop previously funded BioProNET PoC and BIV projects
3. Increase business—academic engagement on innovation activities relating to challenge areas identified by the BioProNET community
4. Foster collaboration between SMEs, larger, more established companies up the value chain and academics within the remit of BioProNET
5. Accelerate translational development of innovations and technologies by supporting work that will forward the development of early TRL projects
6. To support multi- and inter- disciplinary research around BioProNET challenge areas
7. Encourage and secure/leverage increased UK business investment in R&D and improved R&D capability and capacity in bioprocessing
8. Generate data and information that supports applications for larger grant funding
9. Provide support for academics to apply and translate their ideas and science to industrially relevant challenges within any societal, environmental, economic, regulatory or political constraints or opportunities for their work

Please download the application form here.
Send completed forms and any questions to both Charlotte Harrison and Joanne Flannelly.

New BioProNET funding awarded

Congratulations to the awardees of funding in our most recent call:

Proof of concept funding:
Improved preservation of biologics by continuous intensified lyophilisation
Gary Montague, Teeside University; Lonza, Glythera, Accelyo
This project proposes to perform experimental trials of model biologics using laboratory-scale continuous intensified lyophilisation, a technology that uses intensified controlled rate freezing followed by continuous sublimation, to investigate whether this improves activity.

Investigating the effects of hydrodynamic force on the structure and biological integrity of a viral vector gene therapy product
David Brockwell, University of Leeds; Cobra Biologics
Here we aim to find whether a device we developed — that can identify ‘bioprocessible’ protein therapeutics and to optimize buffer conditions — can also inform gene therapy viral vector development or as an analytical tool to differentiate between vectors with empty or full payloads.

Top-down mass spectrometry methods for full characterisation of biopharmaceuticals
Perdita Barran, University of Manchester; Covance

Our aim is to characterize the primary sequence, to locate and analyse PTMs and to assess the three-dimensional structure and extent of aggregation of biopharmaceuticals as quickly as possible using direct mass analysis of native proteins directly from crude cell lysates, without any prior purification.

Business interaction vouchers:
Comparing the productivity of three cell-free extracts based on industrial cell lines
Karen Polizzi, Imperial College London; Lonza
It is unclear how much variability there is between cell-free systems produced from different cell lines. This project aims to compare cell-free systems made from three industrial cell lines to understand how much their protein production capabilities vary.

Scale up of vaccine production in a microalgal host for animal trials
Saul Purton, University College London; MicrosynbiotiX
We will examine the pilot scale production, harvesting and recovery of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii biomass that has been engineered to express a vaccine against a major fish pathogen, with the goal of producing sufficient dried algal material for formulation into fish-feed and use in challenge trials.

Click here for a list of all the proof of concept funding and busines interaction vouchers that we’ve awarded.

A look back at 2016


Third annual meeting science meeting
Our 3rd annual science meeting, held at the East Midlands Conference Centre, was attended by over 160 BioProNET members. As well as speakers from the UK, there was a strong international theme to the event; over half the speakers were international, and our two keynote speakers — Bill Barton and Pete Tessier— were from the USA. More details here.

Outreach events
BioProNET, together with the University of Kent, took part in the Big Bang Near Me and Chemistry at Work events, both of which aimed to inspire students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). At the events, students learned the difficulties in making antibody-based medicines by trying to make replica biologics out of modelling balloons. More details here.

Internationalisation meeting
The BioProNET internationalisation meeting had around 30 invited attendees from across Europe, and aimed to strengthen links within the international bioprocessing community.

BioProNET- and PHYCONET-funded bursaries – microalgal synthetic biology

BioProNET and PHYCONET are funding bursaries to present a ‘microalgal synthetic biology’ talk at the 2017 Microbiology Society meeting in Edinburgh.

The annual conference of the Microbiology Society will be held in Edinburgh from April 3-6, 2017, and will feature a 2-day symposium on ‘Synthetic and Systems Approaches to Microbiology‘ on April 3rd and 4th. An important component of this symposium will be a session on Engineering of new-generation microalgal cell factories’ featuring several key speakers (see below). This session will include 6 x 15-minute offered talks, to be chosen on the basis of submitted abstracts. BioProNET and PHYCONET are funding £300 bursaries to contribute towards registration, travel and accommodation for the 6 persons selected to give the offered talks.

Anyone interested in presenting one of the offered talks should send a 1-page abstract to the organiser of the session, Professor Colin Robinson with full contact details. The abstract should describe the nature of the talk, which should cover research in microalgal synthetic biology or exploitation. Abstracts will be judged by a small panel and we are particularly seeking submissions from early-career researchers. Deadline for submission is November 30, 2016

The programme is still being finalised but confirmed speakers and programme are as follows:
Monday April 3rd:
Prof Lynn Rothschild, Head of Synbio, NASA
Prof John Ward, University College London, UK: Using bacteriophages to make novel nano-scale devices
Prof Jeff Hasty: Transferring plant pathways into microbes
Prof Fernando de la Cruz, Universidad de Cantabria: Systems approaches to studying regulatory networks of bacterial plasmids
Prof.  Natalie Balaban, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel: Mechanism of evolution of antibiotic resistance
Prof Rosalind Allen, University of Edinburgh: The physics of microbial interactions

Tuesday, April 4th:
Dr. Dora Tang, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden: ‘Artificial’ cell synthesis
Prof Doug Densmore, Boston University: Design and assembly of biological systems
Dr R. Berry, University of Oxford: Engineering an artificial bacterial flagellar motor using DNA scaffold nanotechnology
Afternoon session: Engineering of new-generation microalgal cell factories
Prof Olaf Kruse (University of Bielefeld): Metabolic engineering of microalgae as green cell factories
Prof Poul Erik Jensen (University of Copenhagen): Engineering of cyanobacteria for production of high-value products: optimization of electron transport and metabolome formation
3 x 15-min offered talks
Prof Alison Smith (University of Cambridge): Plug and play – developing tuneable gene expression in micro algae using synthetic biology approaches
3 x 15-min offered talks

Joint NIBB meeting – overcoming cellular barriers


Over 75 BioProNET, BioCatNet and CBMNet members attended this joint NIBB (networks in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy) event, held on July 6th & 7th 2016 in Birmingham. After an introduction outlining the objectives of the event, attendees completed a ‘me profile’ describing who they were, their expertise, their dream project and what the next big development in their field of research could be. This was followed by a series of talks from academics and industry scientists in 3 sessions:

Protein trafficking in eukaryotic cells
Protein export from bacterial cell factories
Delivering therapeutic proteins and other compounds
Attendees then spent the rest of the day formulating potential project ideas and developing these new collaborations. This was then followed by a conference dinner where further networking took place, together with some football watching! The second day focused on ‘technology drivers’; after two talks attendees then moved into to groups to further develop project ideas. At the end of day two, 9 project ideas were generated and champions assigned to take these projects forward.