United Kingdom to pursue synthetic biology with new SynbiCITE Centre

The new center will be established with $15.1 million from the U.K. government and an additional $21.1 million from the industry

Kelsey Kaustinen
LONDON—A new synthetic biology hub—the Innovation andKnowledge Center to be known as SynbiCITE—is being established at ImperialCollege London as part of the U.K. government's investment in moving theapplication of synthetic biology into the industry.
 
 
"One of the major challenges that industry and academia facein synthetic biology is translating breakthroughs in research into newproducts. The aim of the new Centre is to break down road blocks so that newindustries can be developed, which could ultimately help to safeguard the UK'seconomic future," Prof. Richard Kitney of Imperial College London commented in a statement regarding the neworganization.
 
The SynbiCITE Centre will aim to bridge the gap betweenacademia and industry to get new technologies in synthetic biology developedand to market faster. The center will include researchers from 17 universitiesand academic institutions besides Imperial College London, as well as 13industrial partners, among them the research arms of GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoftand Shell. Kitney, of the Department of Bioengineering, and Prof.Paul Freemont, of the Department of Life Sciences, will lead the center, whichwill be based at Imperial College London.
 
 
"The U.K. is a global leader in synthetic biology and wehope the establishment of SynbiCITE will help us to capitalize on our researchsuccess," said Freemont in a press release. "The center will also act as a hub,providing a valuable resource for researchers across the U.K."
 
Synthetic biology consists of the reengineering of cells to developmicroscopic devices, which in turn can be used in such applications asdeveloping new pharmaceuticals, reducing the cost of industrial raw materialsand producing low-carbon fuel.
 
 
"The impact possibilities of synthetic biology arephenomenal, and it offers the U.K. a golden opportunity to make the most of itsleading-edge research," said Minister for Universities and Science DavidWilletts. "This new Centre will bring our best researchers and industry intopartnership, advance our scientific knowledge and support new enterprises inthis field."
 
 
The Minister has earmarked synthetic biology as one of theeight technologies that the United Kingdom should prioritize, and establishinga center such as SynbiCITE was recommended last July in the U.K. government'sU.K. Roadmap for Synthetic Biology report.
 
 
SynbiCITE has received £10 million (approximately $15.1million) in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Counciland the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and theTechnology Strategy Board, and an additional £14 million (approximately $21.1million) has been promised by industry.
 
 
SOURCE: Imperial College London press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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