2017 – SEPTEMBER: Import and Export of Small Molecules for Biocatalysis


12-13 September 2017 | Edinburgh


Biochemists and microbiologists have long seen biocatalysis as an area with great promise for chemical synthesis, but industrial applications have been modest. However, significant challenges occur when substrate and product cannot be easily imported and exported from the cell.

This event brought together over 60 academic scientists with diverse interests in the import and export of small molecules, alongside industrial scientists who are interested in improving the robustness of whole-cell biocatalysts.

“The high quality of science was remarkable, and the fact that you had people facing the same problems from (very) different perspectives gave new ideas and insight on how to address my own limitations”


“The best part of the event was the ability to communicate openly and honestly regarding current challenges faced by both academics and industry. For instance, it was beneficial to discuss some discrepancies between the focus of academic research in contrast with the current limitations in industrial settings”

Day one started with a talk on ‘Computational Biochemistry of Biological Membrane Systems’ by Philip Stansfeld, University of Oxford, followed by Konstantinos Beis, Imperial College London, talking about ‘Structural basis for the ins and outs of peptide transport across bacterial membranes’.

We then heard from Reuben Carr, Ingenza, about ‘Transitioning from feasibility to commercial viability in sustainable biobased chemical manufacturing’. Gary Black, Northumbria University then spoke about the ‘Functionalisation of cyclic ketones’.

Ian Archer, IBioIC, spoke about current funding opportunities available in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.

After lunch there were several flash presentations on varied subjects from ‘The marine environment, an untapped industrial biotech resource’ to ‘Making Clostridia Great Again​’. These talks were followed by break out discussions where groups discussed the grand challenges around Import and Export of Small Molecules for Biocatalysis.



“I really enjoy the relevant NIBB events as they keep ideas fresh and my science up to date and to get to know experts in the field”

Day two started with Beppe Battaglia, UCL, speaking about ‘Encapsulating material in nanocontainers for bionanotechnological applications’, followed by Andrew Collis, GSK talking about ‘Whole cell biotransformations: dead or alive’.

There were then several more flash presentations varying from ‘Boosting the biooxidation and synthesis of alkanes with the aid of outer membrane transporters’ to ‘Novel biocatalysts from natural product pathways’.