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On 11 October 2018, the Commission has put forward an action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy that serves Europe’s society, environment and economy.

(read more…)

Today the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum (IBLF) launches the new ‘National Industrial Biotechnology Strategy to 2030’, promoted in partnership with the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA). The Strategy has been developed by the IBLF and two collaborative networks in industrial biotech, CBMNet and BIOCATNET. (read more…)

We are pleased to confirm that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) has agreed to provide a grant of £233,222 to CBMNet to support Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst: Early Stage Feasibility Projects, provided through Wave 1 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). (read more…)

BBSRC has identified industrial biotechnology and bioenergy as high-level priority areas in its Delivery Plan for 2016-2020. Supporting the BBSRC to achieve its strategic goals, this focused workshop will identify the science and technological barriers that need to be addressed in order to harness the potential of plant ‘cell factories’ for producing biopharmaceuticals. A CBMNet-driven symposium (Manchester, September 2017) brought together key players from Canada, the EU and the UK, to discuss scientific and commercial opportunities and challenges in this space. The goal now is to regroup, with a more focused set of individuals, to refine the landscape and to identify opportunities for collaborative R&D projects involving academia and industry in the UK and Canada. These aims are synergistic with those of CBMNet and IBCarb in the UK, and with the Canadian Glycomics Network, GlycoNet. (read more…)

We are proud to announce that a CBMNet led proposal to the First transnational Call for research projects within the framework of the ERA-NET Cofund on Biotechnologies (ERA CoBioTech) “Biotechnology for a Sustainable Bioeconomy”, has been successful. (read more…)

Great new info-graphic from IBioIC about how industrial biotechnology will shape the home of the future: (read more…)

A great idea often starts with a lightbulb moment, a flash of inspiration that feels like it could be something big – but for many ideas that’s as far as it gets. For successful innovators, getting to the point where things really take off is a long and often winding road of hope, promise, disappointment and renewal. (read more…)

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a report entitled “Evaluation of UK Involvement with the Research Framework Programme and other European Research and Innovation Programmes“. The final report, which was originally commissioned by BEIS in 2015, mainly looks at the UK’s involvement in FP7, but also includes some very early conclusions for participation in Horizon 2020 (using data until February 2016). Furthermore, it includes the results of a survey, case studies on FP7 administration and feedback, which UKRO, together with and a number of subscribers, provided in late 2015. (read more…)

A new analysis of the current state and future direction of UK Industrial Biotechnology (IB) was launched at the University of Sheffield. The report, Developing a Strategy for Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in the UK, sets out a series of recommendations designed to make the UK a world leader in IB and create a more sustainable and prosperous economy. (read more…)

In 2015, Scottish Enterprise published “The Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland” on behalf of the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group (SIBDG), which sets out the key actions required to identify the barriers and risks faced by companies and potential investors to enable the more established biorefinery technologies. The Roadmap aims to increase industrial biotechnology turnover to £900 million by 2025. (read more…)

Innovative British biotechnology to add millions to economy

Glasgow,19 October 2017 – The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre today welcomes its 100th member, in what marks a significant step towards the growth of the UK biotechnology market.

It is estimated that by 2025, the UK industrial biotechnology market will be worth up to £12 billion and with the current rate of innovation and growth; it is easy to see how. Industrial biotechnology is changing the world, transitioning products and processes from being petro chemical-based to bio-based.

Everything we use in our daily lives can be reimagined using IB processes so that we are more sustainable, leading to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and waste generation. Examples from IBioIC’s membership include:

•       Prawn shells being used to make environmentally friendly and antimicrobial cling film
•       Timber residues used to make natural food flavourings, including vanilla
•       Methane, a natural gas, converted into high quality protein animal feed
•       Waste bread and potato starch used in medicine manufacturing
•       Bi-products from whiskey manufacturing used to make fuel, feed and even nanoparticles for electronics
•       Genetically modified mosquitoes used to battle Zika virus, Dengue fever and Malaria

Some of the UK’s best-untapped resources for IB are carbon dioxide, agricultural wastes, municipal waste – heading to the landfill, seaweed and timber waste. It is because of these feedstocks and the high-level of academic expertise that the UK, and in particular Scotland, is attracting investment from around the world.

Industrial biotechnology may be a little known industry, but there is clear impact for companies of all sizes. IBioIC’s membership includes 14 startups and spinouts, 42 SMEs and 17 multi-national corporations, as well as government departments and other business consultancies. In keeping with the multi-disciplinary nature of IB, the members include IB expertise from a wide range of industries, from food to pharma to materials. IBioIC supports their members by helping their ideas develop from concept to commercial reality.

100th member – Oxford Biotrans: making natural scents and flavourings from IB

IBioIC recently welcomed Oxford Biotrans as their 100th member to join the likes of GSK, Scottish Water and Ingenza. Oxford Biotrans is a University of Oxford spin-out company supported by over 20 years of research by Dr Luet Lok Wong from the Department of Chemistry. Founded in 2013, the company is working to develop and commercialise enzymatic process technology to yield high-value chemicals from natural sources. Their procedures are environmentally friendly – producing less chemical waste and using less energy than traditional methods.
Their first product, natural-grade nootkatone, is a sesquiterpene, which is the flavour and scent of grapefruit and is used in food, beverage and cosmetic applications (including enhancing in non-citrus flavours). Natural-grade nootkatone is traditionally an expensive ingredient and large quantities of grapefruit are needed to extract commercial amounts of nootkatone – 400,000kg of grapefruit is needed to produce just 1kg of nootkatone. A synthetic nootkatone can be produced through chemical processes, but this requires high temperatures, heavy metals and peroxides, and cannot be classed as natural in the EU.
Oxford Biotrans has developed a process to convert natural valencene; a citrus extract readily obtained from oranges, into natural-grade nootkatone, and is now offering an attractive, secure and environmentally-friendly supply of this in-demand compound. The company has just raised £2.1 million from investment activities, which will enable them to accelerate market entry of further products in the pipeline, building on the performance and capabilities of their innovative platform technology.
Oxford Biotrans has used the support of IBioIC to develop collaborative networks, secure project partners and grant funding and access academic support, hosting an IBioIC PhD student in the organisation. They will also use IBioIC’s scale-up facilities in future to test new ideas and processes for commercialisation.

About IBioIC
IBioIC is a specialist in the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) sector, designed to stimulate the growth of the IB sector in Scotland to £900 million by 2025. The Centre is a connector between industry, academia and government, investing in and facilitating access to expertise, equipment and education in order to grow the industry into a powerhouse of Scotland’s economy.

For more information visit:
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About Oxford Biotrans
Oxford Biotrans is a University of Oxford spin-out company working to develop and commercialise enzymatic process technology to yield high-value chemicals.
For more information visit:

CBMNet helps highlight Northern Bioeconomy Powerhouse – North of England generates £91 billion for UK bioeconomy

A government-commissioned report has shown that the north of England generates an annual turnover of £91 billion and employs more than 400,000 people in the regional bioeconomy.

The UK government requested regional science and innovation audits (SIAs) to develop a new approach to regional economic development. The reports aim to help the UK regions analyse their strengths and identify mechanisms to fulfil their potential.

The north of England report, led by the University of York in collaboration with northern universities (Including CBMNet, at The University of Sheffield) and colleges, research institutions, Local Enterprise Partnerships and businesses, showed that the region has the facilities, specialised research and innovation capability and industrial capacity to deliver a world-leading bioeconomy.

The bioeconomy is defined as the production of biomass and the conversion of renewable biological resources into value-added products such as food, bio-based products and bioenergy.

The report reveals that the UK’s bioeconomy, excluding agriculture, is the third-largest in the European Union after Germany and France and supports five million jobs directly and indirectly.

The consortium’s vision is one of an integrated and innovation-driven product, process and service bioeconomy in the north of England, allowing the region to compete in the multi-trillion-pound global market for sustainable food, feed, chemicals, materials, consumer products and energy.

The BBSRC, with support from EPSRC, has committed £18 million to fund thirteen separate collaborative national Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB), which together include 1125 academic members and 801 company members ranging from micro-SMEs to multinational conglomerates. These multidisciplinary networks drive and fund joint industry-academia collaborations to harness the potential of biological resources for producing and processing materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy.

“We at Lucite have always been aware that a key issue for us, as we strive to develop new technology for the sustainable production of methacrylates, is the transport of substrates and products across the membranes of the microbial hosts. The issue was identifying the key expertise with which we could collaborate to solve our product specific problems. CBMNet [NIBB led from the University of Sheffield] has been instrumental in bringing together the UK and European expertise in membrane science.“ Graham Eastham, Lucite International

NIBB leadership, membership, and competitively distributed funding is disproportionately based in the North of England. Nine of the thirteen Networks are led or co-led from universities in the region; 40% of academic members are based in the region, and 27% of company members are from the North of England. Of competitively distributed funding, 30% has been secured by regional institutions.

Professor Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of York, said: “The north of England has huge capabilities in areas such as agri-science, agri-technology, and industrial biotechnology, with the potential to address some of the UK’s biggest societal challenges.

“The north of England leads the UK in the volume of funded research aimed at increasing innovation in the bioeconomy, which puts the region in a very strong position to deliver a globally competitive industry.”

The report reveals the north of England has particular strengths in chemicals, process industries, and in food and drink.  Food and drink represents around one-third of the regional bioeconomy and chemicals make up one-quarter.

The N8 Research Partnership, a northern university research consortium, has a major interdisciplinary programme in agri-food research across eight universities in the region.

The region holds 38 per cent of the UK’s chemicals industry workforce, 31 per cent of the polymers industry workforce, and 36 per cent of apprenticeships relevant to the bioeconomy. The universities in the north also provide a quarter of the UK science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates.

Business Minister Lord Prior said: “The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.

“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”

See the full report at


CBMNet Early Career Researcher gives talk at Ignite Academy

Leonardo Talachia Rosa – Bacterial insight: The faster you chew, the more you eat.

Bacteria are isolated from the environment by a lipid bi layer, and in order to uptake food, they need specific components called membrane transporters. They need a transporter for each compound, just as if we needed a different mouth for every food. Some transporters are more efficient than others, and this talk will be about how I am trying to discover how some very efficient transporters work, and trying to engineer them for a greener future.

On the 21st September, the University of Sheffield presents Magical Worlds: Ignite Academy 2017 6.30pm-9pm, Adelphi Room, Crucible Theatre

+ FREE ENTRY + 18x 5min presentations
What are the modern mysteries, problems and questions that shape the research we do across our university? What are the current small niggles and big challenges that research can help us face?

What is Ignite? Ignite is a geek event that is held in over 100 cities worldwide. At the events, Ignite presenters share their research passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, making a total of just five minutes. 
What will you learn? 
We cover a broad range of topics from departments across the University. The spirit of Ignite Academy is simply about education, learning, teaching and sharing ideas with the people of Sheffield.
Who is this event for? Each talk is pitched for a public audience so everyone is welcome. Ignite Academy is a chance to hear about new projects, exciting ideas, leading thinking, and up to the minute innovation.

Government Publishes paper on ‘Collaboration on science and innovation: A FUTURE PARTNERSHIP PAPER’

The United Kingdom wants to build a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union. This paper is part of a series setting out key issues which form part of the Government’s vision for that partnership, and which will explore how the UK and the EU, working together, can make this a reality.

Each paper will reflect the engagement the Government has sought from external parties with expertise in these policy areas, and will draw on the very extensive work undertaken across Government since last year’s referendum. Taken together, these papers are an essential step towards building a new partnership to promote our shared interests and values.

Read the paper here.

CBMNet awarded Industrial Strategy Challenge Funding

We are pleased to announce that CBMNet has been awarded £150,000 from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in the form of an Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst Seeding Award.


£100,000 of this has just been awarded to Dr Alan Goddard, Aston University, in the form of a CBMNet FLAGSHIP award – Consolidation, Integration and Critical Mass Building- Optimizing membrane function in the Clostridial ABE process. This project involves collaboration between Dr Goddard, Dr Robert Fagan (University of Sheffield), Professor Gavin Thomas (University of York), Dr Peter Chivers (Durham University) and Green Biologics Limited.

The overall objective is to consolidate GBL-CBMNet interactions facilitated through five CBMNet Business Interaction Vouchers, one academic-industrial exchange and one Proof-of-Concept award, along with a Metals In Biology Business Interaction Voucher, to obtain a more holistic picture of the role of membrane dysfunction in restricting n-butanol yields.  The project will synergise the independent research of four PIs, who have not previously worked together, and GBL to build critical mass and generate new data to underpin substantial funding applications in the near future e.g. BBSRC-LINK, IPA, and Catalyst-type projects.  GBL achieved a significant milestone in 2016 by commissioning the first new ABE plant in the US since 1938.  This success has been achieved despite limited understanding of the physiology of Clostridia used in the process, especially the cell membrane that is critical for the stability and robustness of the strain in industrial fermentations, in particular nutrient uptake and metabolite efflux. This project will contribute to fundamental understanding of the membrane and identify gene targets for performance improvements.

Over the past few years, GBL have collaborated with each of the academic partners to developing a better understanding of the solventogenic Clostridia in a number of important areas.  GBL have recently opened their first large scale n-butanol plant, Central Minnesota Renewables in the US and have patented a highly efficient proprietary genome editing technology. By combining the academic expertise with GBLs technology, this project will provide novel routes for strain development that can impact on a number of process parameters. For example, higher butanol concentrations in the fermentation may reduce the likelihood of contamination, lead to a more efficient cell separation process, and reduce the significant costs associated with distillation, as well as improve the water balance of the plant (which has an environmental impact).  By understanding the butanol stress response at a number of levels (membrane lipids, proteins, transporters, metalloenzymes), strain improvement strategies can be better targeted.


£25,000 has been awarded to Dr Hoiczyk,  University of Sheffield, and GlycoMar, for their project ‘Use of Membrane complexes for the production of microalgal polysaccharides’. 

The utilisation of microalgae for production of high value chemicals has seen major advances in the last decade. A key limitation is the yield of target products, which can restrict their commercial viability. This is particularly the case with exopolysaccharides (EPS), which are produced by many microalgae and represent a large biochemically diverse resource. GlycoMar Ltd has developed pilot scale production of a microalgal EPS, which has been patented for use in healthcare and skin care. Although methods for the production of the EPS exist, increased yield would greatly improve its industrial potential. The EPS appears to be secreted through the decapore apparatus in the cell’s envelope although its precise role in synthesis, maturation, and secretion are currently unclear. The proposed project aims to isolate and purify the membrane pore complex with the goal to identify its protein components. Our working hypothesis is that the complex multi-layered decapore complex is more than a simple secretion portal and is crucial for the synthesis, maturation, and derivatisation of the exported polymer. Therefore, we expect that once the membrane protein components of the decapore are known, future work could address the deletion and/or overexpression of genes coding for these individual components to influence polymer production. This strategy should provide the basis for the identification of overproducing strains that would open up the route for larger-scale application of the identified EPS product.

The outcomes of the project have commercial potential, in terms of the application of the product, but also potentially as a platform technology utilising membrane pore complexes as production systems for microbial polysaccharides. This has the capacity to open the production and utilisation of a very wide range of polysaccharide products, which are currently limited by yield, culturing or handling issues.


£25,000 has been awarded to Dr Vincent Postis, Leeds Beckett University, and English Spirit Distillery, for their project ‘Bioenergy production from biorefineries waste using super yeasts’.

Due to the constant increase in energy prices, demand for cheap/renewable energy has escalated. The bioethanol sugarcane raffineries generates large amounts of wastes: bagasse (solid) and vinasse (liquid). For every litre of distilled ethanol, 10-15L of vinasse, are generated. While bagasse is used as carburent in electric generators, vinasse is disposed in agricultural fields or at sea leading to major environmental issues.

Vinasse main component is glycerol. Glycerol is also accumulated as a by-product in diverse types of biorefineries. Therefore such by products can be recycled at low costs for fermentation processes by yeast.

To reduce this environmental negative impact, this project therefore proposes to generate yeasts which will be able to transform this industrial waste into a green biofuel. Our aim is then to select/generate yeast as efficient ‘’cell factories’’ capable of converting glycerol-based products, such as vinasse, into large amounts of added-value products, namely free fatty-acids/neutral-lipids. Those can then be converted in biofuel of second generation or used for the anti-foam agents production.

Due to the accumulation of vinasse as a by-product in diverse types of biorefineries, this strategy would emerge as instrumental and cost-effective for the yeast- based fermentation industries. In addition,  it will also reduce the severe environmental impact of bioethanol sugarcane raffineries. In conclusion, yeast fermentation of vinasse (in this case) besides contributing to the recycling of waste, will also reduce the toxicity of this by-product.

Information Days on 2018-2020 Horizon 2020 Calls for Proposals

The European Commission will organise a number of information days in Brussels on the upcoming 2018-2020 calls for proposals in the last Work Programme of Horizon 2020 (to be published in October). These events will provide information on the content of the calls and will often be combined with dedicated brokerage events to support prospective applicants with finding partners for projects. The following events are planned in the coming months

Furthermore, a series of national events is also planned by Innovate UK and the Enterprise Europe Network. A list of planned and confirmed events can be found on the Innovate Knowledge Transfer Network’s website.

Synthetic Biology Start-up company survey results

A survey of synthetic biology company start-ups in the UK is published today by SynbiCITE, the UK’s national centre for the commercialisation of synthetic biology. The study reveals a vibrant ecosystem sustaining a thriving and rapidly growing sector of the bioeconomy.

Highlighting sources of innovation and entrepreneurship, and exploring R&D, technology transfer, investment and growth, the survey covers UK starts-ups between 2000 and 2016. A close look at 146 synthetic biology companies shows that the number of start-ups has doubled every five years during the survey period. Looking ahead, it seems likely that with the right support, the UK synthetic biology ecosystem will be able to model itself on the self-sustaining clusters found in the US in Silicon Valley, CA, and Cambridge, MA.

“Confirming the arrival of a new innovation ecosystem demands evidence: proof that variables ranging from investment, pipeline infrastructure, to talent and education are established and stable”, said Dr. Stephen Chambers, CEO, SynbiCITE. “We believe the industry has reached a critical mass of companies, showing a healthy churn of attrition and creation. Roughly 76% of all the start-ups founded in the survey period are still active and with the continuation of an effective national strategy in the future, this ecosystem will undoubtedly thrive, creating jobs and wealth while sustaining the UK’s leading role in the field.”

Professor Richard Kitney, Co-Director, SynbiCITE commented: “As you’d expect of an industrial sector at a relatively early stage, synthetic biology in the UK will continue to require public as well as private investment. This will be essential to translate today’s research into the exciting industrial products of the future that promise to make such a positive difference to our world in health, energy, materials and the environment.”

“Patience will be crucial,” added Professor Paul Freemont, Co-Director, SynbiCITE, “the UK government has shown great support for synthetic biology, investing £300m in between 2009-2016. We have no doubt this industry has a bright future, and look forward to expanding our work with world leaders in synthetic biology in the USA and Asia for example where so much exciting work is being done”.

Take a look at the survey UK Synthetic Biology Start-up Survey 2017

​The European Commission has launched a new Joint Research Centre (JRC) Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre (BKC). The BKC is the fourth Knowledge Centre to be launched by the JRC in recent years and aims to bring information and data from a wide variety of sources together in one place, in an open format. In doing so, the BKC aims to help provide a more coherent picture of knowledge on the bioeconomy across Europe, as well as identify gaps and bring information closer to the general public and policy makers. Following on from the work of the JRC Bioeconomy Observatory, it is hoped that the BKC will play a key role in the development of EU policies in the short, medium and long term.


CBMNet Management Board Member Professor Susan Molyneux Hodgson spoke at the Hay Litery festival last night in the session ‘We Need to talk about Gene Tech’.

Why does public debate and policy treat the application of genetic technology differently when we are discussing medicine and food? Why is our concept of what is ‘natural’ so controversial and the idea of GM food so alarming? Scientists and sociologists come together with Daniel Davis to discuss what’s being ventured and how it is perceived.


CBMNet Proof-of-Concept and Vacation Scholarship projects awarded

Following on from our latest Proof-of-Concept and Vacation Scholarship funding calls we are pleased to announce that we have funded 6 projects.

Proof-of-Concept: Newcastle University and Ingenza – L-form technologies: a novel platform for therapeutic protein production.

Many human proteins are used for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases and many more have the potential to be developed as drugs if they can be produced in sufficient quantities. To avoid contamination with agents (prions and viruses) that can cause serious diseases, these proteins are produced in bacterial or animal cells, rather than extraction from human tissue. There is therefore a need to produce sufficient amounts of novel human proteins for preliminary analyses and, if see to have therapeutic potential, for clinical trials. Production systems based on the bacterium, Escherichia coli, is the first choice system for producing such proteins. However, about one third of all human proteins are not capable of being synthesised in E. coli production systems and alternative systems have to be used. This particularly applied to proteins that are secreted from human cells and that have disulphide bonds in their final structure. Disulphide bonds are formed after synthesis and secretion from the cell and involve the formation of bonds between two amino acid residues (cysteine) in the protein. The collaboration between Newcastle University and Ingenza is aimed at relieving known bottlenecks in the production of therapeutic proteins by using a bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, that can be switched to a wall-less state that removes a major bottleneck to protein secretion. The project involves generating such strains and evaluating their performance under commercial biomanufacturing conditions. If successful, the strains could expand the range of therapeutic proteins available for the treatment of specific diseases.


Proof-of-Concept: University of Sheffield and Excivion – Viral antigen production for diagnosis and vaccine-mediated disease prevention by rational glycoengineering-mediated protein secretion in a mammalian cell factory.

The global incidence of mosquito-borne flavivirus induced disease such as dengue has increased exponentially over the last four decades. Fuelled by conditioning factors such as rapid urbanisation, demographic change, large-scale migration, and travel, dengue is now endemic in most countries of the tropics, and about 925 million people now live in urban areas that are at high risk of dengue infection. More recently Zika, another mosquito-borne virus, has been implicated in the causation of microcephaly in infants, and encephalitis in adults. In conjunction with concerns about expanding mosquito habitats, and global movement of humans on significant scales, there is a compelling need to find new solutions for the prevention this family of diseases, as well as diagnoses of extent and type of exposure, as this information has significant implications for subsequent treatment and strategies for prevention. A particular challenge in this family of diseases concerns the fact that while initial exposure gives rise to mild disease, subsequent exposure to other related viral strains can result in severe illness and death, as a consequence of known mechanisms associated with the immune system, which act to make the disease symptoms considerably worse. It follows that both specific diagnosis and new vaccine designs will be required to control these diseases effectively. This project aims to exploit specific cell factories, together with our understanding of key protein structures in flaviviruses, to generate novel non–natural proteins which will have the capability both of enabling strain-specific diagnosis, as well as inducing protection in vaccination programs of carefully screened individuals, without predisposing to haemorrhagic fever (which is a recognised risk for existing vaccine designs).

Vacation Scholarship: University of Kent – Functional characterisation of a putative succinate efflux pump from Corynebacterium glutamicum.

Succinate is a key precursor in the production of biodegradable plastics and fabrics. The majority of industrially produced succinate is derived from petrochemical precursors. However, several microbial species have been engineered to maximise succinate production during fermentation. A succinate efflux pump, SucE, was recently identified in C. glutamicum, which substantially increases succinate production when overexpressed. However, the structure, mechanism, energetics and substrate specificity of this transporter remain unknown. A comprehensive understanding of SucE’s transport mechanism could allow us to manipulate this transporter and/or it’s energy source to make succinate (and possibly other dicarboxylic acid) efflux more efficient, potentially increasing the succinate yield of C. glutamicum. This project fits perfectly within the remit of CBMNet as it is centred on understanding how an industrially important chemical is transported across the bacterial membrane. The aims of this project are to; 1) clone sucE from C. glutamicum into an E. coli expression vector, 2) optimise the expression and purification conditions, 3) assay SucE function using in vivo succinate accumulation assays, and 4) reconstitute SucE into liposomes for in vitro transport assays.

Vacation Scholarship: University of Leeds – Durable vesicles for stabilisation of membrane proteins in biotechnology

Hybrid vesicles, which combine the biofunctionality of phospholipids with the stability of block copolymer membranes, can enhance the functional durability of membrane proteins. We have demonstrated that hybrid vesicles extend the functional half-life of cytochrome bo3 from 1-2 weeks in proteoliposomes to 4-6 months in hybrids (Chem. Commun. 52, 11020, 2016). The student will aim to:
1. Successfully reproduce functional reconstitution of cytochrome bo3 into hybrid vesicles (training).
2. Characterise proton pumping by cytochrome bo3 in hybrid vesicles using a pH-sensitive fluorophore.
3. Test whether (i) using a different triblock copolymer, or (ii) protein reconstitution using SMALPs has advantages over our existing materials and protocols.
4. (If time permits) co-reconstitute cytochrome bo3 with F-ATPase to create a proto-organelle to generate ATP.

Vacation Scholarship: University of Nottingham – Purification of membrane transporters to identify topology and binding sites by mass spectrometry.

Multidrug (MDR) pump show an unusually broad substrate specificity, which is poorly understood. This lack of knowledge undermines their potential use in IBBE applications where this polyspecitify may be harnessed in engineered microorganisms. Our group has an excellent track record in working with MDR pumps and now wish to harness recent advances in protein labelling and mass spectrometry (MS) to see if we can map the polyspecific binding sites of MDR pumps using MS.

Vacation Scholarship: University of Kent – Vitamin B12 into yeast.

We will determine if Saccharomyces cerevisiae can transport vitamin B12 (cobalamin) into the cell. A recent paper concerning the production of butanol isomers suggests that this is possible (see Curr Opin Biol 2015, 33: 1-7) but we would like to provide definitive evidence and quantify the levels of cobalamin that can be accumulated. We will investigate the ability of S. cerevisiae to absorb B12 using two complementary approaches. Firstly, we will grow the yeast in the presence of a range of different concentrations of vitamin B12. After growth, the cells will be thoroughly washed and then lysed. The supernatant from the lysed cells will then be applied to a very sensitive B12-dependent microbial plate assay. This will allow the student to compare B12 uptake against external concentrations of added B12. Secondly, we have made a number of B12 fluorophores, whereby we have attached a fluorophore to the B12 mainframe. These fluorescent probes are taken up by bacteria, algae and worms. With our new confocal microscope system we will be able to follow the movement and accumulation of the fluorophore within the S. cerevisiae also.


£25,000 Proof-of-Concept Available

As a result of our last Proof-of-Concept call, and some under-spend, we have £25,000 of PoC funding remaining (@80%fEC). Therefore, we are inviting applications from our members for a final PoC project.

Details: To allow consortia to generate the preliminary information required to establish the feasibility of their proposed approaches, with the target of generating competitive bids to other relevant funding calls.
Important dates: CALL OPEN UNTIL 12 NOON MAY 31st 2017
Amount available: £25,000 (@80% fEC) to fund ONE project.
Further information

We are pleased to announce that we have successfully been awarded funding from the BBSRC to expand CBMNet activities across the globe!

We are headed to New Zealand for a workshop aimed at ‘Exploiting Algae and marine biomass for Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy’

In August 2017, CBMNet and PHYCONET members are heading to the Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand. The workshop focuses on a deeper understanding of the bottlenecks in producing polysaccharides, other bioactives and functional food ingredients from marine biomass. We will identify the challenges in characterisation, production and commercialisation, with the aim of generating project ideas to overcome yield-restricting bottlenecks in this process. The workshop will provide a forum for leading academic and industrial practitioners to establish a strong evidence-based assessment of our current understanding of the challenges and these will be carried forward by establishing new partnerships and collaborations.

CBMNet Co-Director, Dr Gavin Thomas, is planning a UK-Taiwan exchange to understand the structure & function of bacterial transporters for Industrial Biotechnology & Bioenergy.

The transport of small molecules across bacterial membranes via active transport is an underexploited component of metabolic engineering and has great potential in improving processes in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy (IBBE). To be able to rationally improve transporter function, knowledge of the structure/function relationships within these proteins is crucial. In this network we seek support to build a UK-Taiwan network of researchers sharing expertise in the study of transporters relevant for IBBE. The main component of the collaboration is the exchange of knowledge, in terms of understanding the function and structure of membrane transport proteins, in particular in scoping new research into IBBE-relevant targets and developing new techniques and expertise using TRAP transporters. This will be supported through three main activities; A Kick-off meeting July in York, several research exchanges and a grant writing and future perspectives meeting.

We’re welcoming Canadian and European Colleagues to Establish International Partnerships in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in improved glycoform-based biopharmaceutical production in plants.

This September we are hosting a 3 day workshop which will provide a forum to facilitate collaboration between international partners in developing ‘non-traditional’ expression systems, focusing on plant and yeast cell factories, developing capabilities that can translate to existing and future platform technologies for production of biopharmaceuticals. A key goal of this meeting is to explore opportunities for collaboration and funding within the BBSRC priority funding area ‘New approaches to industrial biotechnology’. Specifically, this workshop will focus on a deeper understanding of the native glycosylation machinery and the manipulation thereof for the production of biopharmaceutical products with enhanced or even novel functions.  The programme will draw on the extensive experience in plant and yeast-based systems and approaches developed to achieve predictive modification of glycoform. Invited speakers have been chosen based on their expertise in different areas of plant and yeast biology, glycosylation, protein biochemistry and cell trafficking.  A key aim of the workshop is to develop a new network of research groups interested in industrial biotechnology and identify common research goals for responsive mode funding opportunities.



CBMNet Sponsored Early Career Researcher wins Gordon Conference ‘Best Oral Presentation’ Prize

We are pleased to announce that CBMNet member Arthur Neuberger, University of Cambridge, has just returned from the Gordon Conference on ‘Multi-Drug Efflux Systems’, where he won 1st Prize for ‘Best Oral Presentation’. CBMNet sponsored him through one of our Early Researcher Grants to attend the event.

The Gordon Research Seminar and Conference on “Multi-Drug Efflux Systems” is the most important specialists’ meeting in the field. One of the Gordon Conference policies is that presenters should be actively encouraged to show and discuss a considerable amount of unpublished data and work in progress (where possible). This makes Gordon Conferences not only the most interesting and exciting meetings in the field but also those that truly “operate” at the utmost frontier of science.

Arthur told us ”As a result of the vast interactions with my peers, I have discussed a future collaboration with Prof. Arthur Roberts (University of Georgia, USA) on functional analysis of PgP (a transporter involved in the failure of human cancer chemotherapy due to drug efflux). This was encouraged by another presentation, in which unpublished data motivated further investigation of a potential secondary activity for PgP.”

”The conference was also vital for career planning: As part of the GRS, an expert panel discussion was set up to answer career-related questions from young researchers. New this year was the “power hour”: a panel to discuss science career opportunities and challenges for female scientists. Besides science talking, conference attendees usually discussed career opportunities. In my case, a professor from Essex encouraged me to apply for a lectureship position at his university right after my PhD.”

”Both my presentation and my poster attracted much interest from both young and senior scientists. Moreover, I won the “best presentation” award for my talk.I would like to thank CBMNet for the great opportunity to attend and be part of this fantastic meeting!”

ERA CoBioTech –

It has just been confirmed that Innovate UK have allocated up to £2M to support UK industry partners as part of the current call – Biotechnology for a sustainable bioeconomy. The deadline for submitting pre-proposals is 2nd March 2017, further details are in the call announcement available on the CoBioTech website. If you have any queries about this call please email


Invista vacancies

At INVISTA, you won’t just be an employee. You’ll be part of a team that works hard every day to support innovations in the nylon, spandex, polyester and specialty materials industries. A subsidiary of privately owned Koch Industries, Inc., INVISTA’s global team is spread out across more than 20 countries around the world.

Charles Koch, Koch Industries’ Chairman and CEO, says, “Innovation is facilitated by having the right people in the right roles with the right skills and values.”

We want the right people in the right roles—and we want those people to be fulfilled in their roles. Fulfillment enables employees to realize their full potential—and helps them improve and grow within their career fields.

Invista currently have 6 advertised vacancies:

  • R&D Senior Bioscientist
  • Fermentation Engineer/Scientist
  • Senior Fermentation Scientist/Engineer
  • Senior Biostatistician – Data management, analysis and visualisation
  • Senior Bioinformatician – Metabolic pathway discovery and optimisation
  • Process Engineering Science Leader

More details for each role including how to apply can be found at

BBSRC Responsive Mode Bioenergy strategic priority update buy viagra much

BBSRC has recently updated its Bioenergy Responsive Mode strategic priority, the updated information can be found on the BBSRC website brand viagra 50mg

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Industrial Strategy Green Paper

The Government has launched its green paper on the Industrial Strategy – “Building our Industrial Strategy” – available here. The paper contains a set of proposals that will impact upon research and development in the UK, and an invitation to contribute to their continued development.

The Industrial Strategy is still very much in the consultation stage, so we would encourage you look through the paper and respond where appropriate (details on how to respond can be found on page 8 of the paper).

Postdoctoral Research Associate/Fellow (fixed-term) Membrane Biophysics

Salary £26,052 to £30,175 (minimum with PhD £29,301) per annum depending on skills and experience.  Salary progression beyond this scale is subject to performance.

 Applications are invited to the above role in biophysics, structural and computational biology available at the Bonev Lab in Nottingham. The candidate will join a team working on an Innovate UK-funded project involving the Universities of York, Sheffield, Nottingham and Cambridge along with industrial partners Lucite, Green Biologics, Ingenza and CPI. Green production of industrial chemicals from non-food sugars is a major and growing undertaking by the major biotech and chemical manufacturers. The consortium works on engineering a cell factory, capable of producing high levels of industrial chemicals and having high tolerance to the manufactured compounds. The challenge for the incumbent is to characterise bacterial membrane sensitivity and tolerance to industrial chemicals and to engineer membrane components in bacteria for enhanced tolerance. The work will involve bacterial membrane studies, recombinant membrane protein production, characterization by solid state NMR and other biophysical methods, as well as in silico protein and membrane engineering and molecular dynamics simulations.

Highly motivated and creative postdoctoral candidates are sought a position at the Bonev Lab. Applicants with relevant background from biophysics, biochemistry, chemistry or related field and experience in the above areas are particularly encouraged to apply. The incumbent will work as a member of a team at Nottingham and more widely within the consortium. The candidate will be expected to prepare and deliver progress reports to the consortium six times per year and prepare research papers.

The University of Nottingham is a research-strong institution with a strong tradition in magnetic resonance and is well equipped for solid state and DNP MAS, as well as solution NMR. The Bonev Lab is based at the Medical School at the Queen’s Medical Centre. The lab is equipped with an in-house solid state MAS NMR system configured for membrane work and a GPU-server for MD simulations. As a key partner in the 600 MHz DNP NMR Facility at Nottingham, the Bonev Lab has regular use of the system.  The lab is also a major user of the Nottingham HPC and has regular access to Diamond and ISIS.

Candidates must hold a PhD or be near to completion of a PhD or studying towards a PhD or equivalent in biophysics, biochemistry, chemistry or related field.

This full-time fixed-term post is available from 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2020.


Applications can be made at:


Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Bonev or via Please note that applications sent directly to this Email address will not be accepted.



Submit your next biotech article to Microbiology

Microbiology invites submissions of research articles and reviews that focus on established and emerging topics in biotechnology. There are a wide range of applications for microbiology in the field of biotechnology, from industrial and environmental processes to developments in biopharmaceuticals.

Articles are welcome that utilise microbial systems to develop technologies and products that could improve our lives or our environment. Articles are invited on the following topics:

• Metabolic engineering
• Metabolomics
• Genetic engineering
• Synthetic biology
• Directed evolution
• Bioremediation
• Bioengineering
• Protein engineering
• Microbes as cell factories
• Bioenergy

Microbiology combines editorial expertise from around the world with exceptional breadth of coverage. The journal’s 2015 impact factor is 2.268. There are no submission or page charges and the average time to first decision is four weeks. Authors can also choose to publish with our gold open access option, OpenMicrobiology.

More information here.

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