Market Analysis of the IBBE Sector: Relevant areas to Project DETOX

Professor Dave Kelly (University of Sheffield)
DETOX Project

“It has been excellent having Connor join the team to perform this essential market analysis. His work will directly contribute to an informed business plan to commercialise the technology we are developing on DETOX”

Joyce Bennett, DETOX Project Manager


The Challenge

Product toxicity is a serious barrier to commercialization of Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-Energy (IBBE). Project DETOX is a BBSRC-funded collaboration between academics (at York, Nottingham, Sheffield, Cambridge and Exeter) and UK-based biotechnology companies. It aims to understand how microbes overcome product toxicity and to generate solutions for use in bioproduction.

Beyond the scope of the initial 5-year project, the DETOX team wanted to know who might be interested in their technology with a view to future commercialisation. In addition, they also wished to develop case studies for promotional purposes, based on feedback from industrial partners.

The Research

Professor Dave Kelly is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Sheffield. The research in his laboratory focuses mainly on the physiology of bacterial pathogens and industrially relevant bacteria. Professor Kelly is also a collaborator in the DETOX project that aims to develop solutions to industrial biomanufacturing constraints.

Professor Kelly applied for a CBMNet Vacation Scholarship in order to fund important market research for the DETOX project and to develop promotional materials. Connor Innes, an undergraduate from the University of Sheffield, was employed as a CBMNet-funded summer student performing market research for the DETOX project.

The Result

Connor compiled a spreadsheet of companies working on biobased technologies, collecting pertinent data about the company and/or technology. Connor focused on bulk chemicals, where improving the yield of a biomanufacturing route has the potential to make the biggest difference to the economic viability of a biobased product.

Connor also conducted interviews with industrial partners of the DETOX project. Feedback was gathered on how the industrial partner valued their involvement with the DETOX Project and opportunities for working together beyond the project. This was used to prepare case studies and compiled into a leaflet that can be put on the website and used for marketing to new clients.

Connor presented his database and promotional leaflet to the DETOX team’s quarterly meeting.

The Future

The spreadsheet of potential clients is a valuable resource for the DETOX project and will be updated with new companies as these emerge. It is an excellent starting point to develop a commercialisation strategy.

The meetings with industrial partners were useful to understand their perspective and how new clients may want to work with the DETOX project.

The case studies are essential to demonstrate to potential clients the benefits of working with DETOX. These promotional materials will be developed and published on the DETOX website and/or shared with clients and investors.

Connor gained experience of market analysis and presentation skills and will start a graduate job in September.


University of Sheffield logo“Working with the DETOX project gave me in-depth exposure to bioindustry and greatly improved my understanding of the commercialisation of science, as well as offering the chance to improve soft skills such as presenting”

Connor Innes, Summer Student, University of Sheffield


Download the case study