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In 2014, the BBSRC, with support from EPSRC, committed £18M to fund 13 unique collaborative Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB). The success of this first phase of NIBB led to the funding of a second phase of NIBB, commencing in April 2019.

Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) is defined as:

  • The use of biological resources for producing and processing materials, chemicals (including pharmaceutical precursors and biopharmaceuticals) and energy
  • These resources include plants, algae, marine life, fungi and micro-organisms

What is CBMNet?

The ‘Crossing biological membranes’ network at Sheffield is designed to foster collaborations between academia, industry, policy makers and NGOs in order to find new approaches to tackle research challenges, translate research and deliver key benefits in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.

Our multi-disciplinary network drives new ideas to harness the potential of biological resources for producing and processing materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy. We are working to understand the mechanisms by which substances are transported into, within, and out of cell factories, which will lead to the development of enabling technologies that are crucial for the future of almost all cell-based IBBE applications.

The role of CBMNet in addressing Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) challenges…

Gone are the days when giant factories were belting out smoke and pollutants. With climate change becoming an ever-growing concern, researchers and industrialists are typically looking to a cleaner future where inputs and outputs – substrates and products – are processed in a greener fashion.

Nature has been improving its own chemical processes for millions of years, and many of these are carried out at ambient temperatures and pressures – a far cry from the extreme heat and pressure used in traditional industrial processes. Synthetic biology aims to make use of these highly refined biological organisms, reactions and components, and re-engineer them for defined purposes. This increasingly prominent field could make some industrial processes significantly cleaner, as well as expand the repertoire of useful chemicals that we can produce, including new fuels, pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals.

We posit that a deeper understanding and wider appreciation of the mechanisms of transport of substances into, within, and out of cells can be exploited in the development of enabling technologies that are crucial for the intensification of a wide range of biomanufacturing processes.

Areas we are keen to explore are:

  • Getting more things in: manipulation of substrate uptake
  • Getting things out: improving export/efflux of chemicals
  • Hijacking transporters for IBBE
  • Moving complex molecules across membranes
  • Altering the membrane itself
  • Putting it all together – consolidated bioprocessing

Please read more about our AIMS, EVENTS and REMIT.

View more information about the other BBSRC NIBB from Phase I & Phase II.