London, UK (Scicasts) — The UK Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman MP, will today announce the release of the UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016 — Biodesign for the Bioeconomy.

The announcement will be made during Mr. Freeman’s visit to SynbiCITE at Imperial College London, the UK innovation and knowledge centre for synthetic biology.

The main aim of this strategic plan, developed by the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC), is to accelerate the commercialization of synthetic biology products and services with clear public benefit, building upon the strength of the UK research base.

“With help from government investment in world-class research facilities, including £50m for dedicated research centres, DNA facilities and training, UK capability in synthetic biology has made rapid progress in recent years and we are now in pole position to capitalize on this potential,” says Mr. Freeman.

“This strategy sets out a clear plan to ensure the UK maintains its position as a global leader by taking our world-leading research and turning it into commercial opportunities."

The plan focuses on five key areas of strategic importance for the UK as it aims to achieve a £10bn UK synthetic biology market by 2030:

  • Accelerating industrialization and commercialization of biodesign technologies and assets
  • Maximizing the capability of the innovation pipeline
  • Building an expert workforce for biodesign industry
  • Developing a supportive business environment, by aligning the needs of stakeholders with regulation and governance systems, and
  • Building value from national and international partnerships within the synthetic biology community.

This new strategy builds on the recommendations made in the Synthetic Biology Roadmap for the UK, which was first published by Innovate UK in 2012.

The roadmap led directly to major funding and policy activities, including the establishment of new synthetic biology research centres, the Innovation and Knowledge Centre at SynbiCITE, DNA synthesis facilities, training centres and a seed fund for innovative companies.

“The 2012 UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap helped establish firm foundations of technical excellence, responsibility in research and innovation, proportionate regulation and governance,” explains Prof. Lionel Clarke, Co-Chair of SBLC.

In addition, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC) was founded to manage the continued growth of this field.

During 2015, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC) consulted a broad cross-section of businesses and the research community to develop this new strategic plan, building upon the successes of the 2012 roadmap.

“We look forward to being a part of the second roadmap!" affirms Dr. Ted Fjallman, CEO of Prokarium Ltd. He says that Prokarium received a number of benefits from the first SynBio roadmap in terms of new R&D projects launched in the UK, various partnerships built as a result of the company’s R&D within SynbiCITE and the trade missions and conferences organized by the BIA, UKTI and SynbiCITE.

“For Prokarium this has led to direct investment from Sweden, which has allowed us to develop several vaccines to preclinical proof of concept; some of which are sought after in fast growing markets in Asia,” says Dr. Fjallman.

"Business-led innovation in synthetic biology creates industries for the future,” notes Dr. Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of the UK's innovation agency. Innovate UK. “We need to commercialize this technology and drive growth in the bioeconomy – this area is ripe for investment.”

The full text of "Biodesign for the Bioeconomy. UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016" can be accessed here.