Synthetic biology is one of the eight great technologies identified by the Chancellor George Osborne in November 2012 as an area in which the UK is a world leader. Synthetic biology applies the principles of engineering design to biological systems and processes. Scientists believe that it may lead to new applications, such as novel systems for energy and chemicals production, medical therapies, biological computers and innovative ways to clean up hazardous waste.
The synbio companies which won a UKTI-sponsored competition for financial assistance to represent the UK in San Francisco are: Algenuity, Green Biologics Ltd, Morph Bioinformatics, Oxitec Ltd, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prokarium Ltd, Sphere Fluidics Ltd, Synpromics Ltd and Synthace Ltd.
The winning companies will be attending SynBioBeta SF 2013 as part of the first ever UK synbio trade mission. The companies will have the opportunity to attend events organised by the Science and Innovation Network on the translation of synbio research for commercial application and meet with key Californian academics, investors and companies.
The trade mission has been organised by the BIA in collaboration with UKTI, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to promote and assist the UK synbio research community to fulfil its exporting potential.
Steve Bates, BIA Chief Executive Officer, said:
This UK delegation shows the world the vibrancy, strength and global scientific leadership of start-up synbio companies in the UK. Watch out west coast USA, the Brits are coming.
Louis Barson, Head of the Science and Innovation Unit at UKTI, said:
The eight great technologies, including synthetic biology, are solid examples of the UK's innovation in life sciences which is vital to delivering the government's economic growth agenda.
The USA is the world's largest economy and Britain's biggest export market, offering huge potential for UK companies to boost their overseas trade and attract new investment. UKTI's support for potential exporters is a key part of the Government's plan to double Britain's export receipts by 2015.
Belinda Clarke, Lead Technologist (Synthetic Biology) at the TSB, the UK's innovation agency, said:
The companies taking part in the Mission demonstrate the breadth and depth of expertise that synthetic biology has already achieved in the UK. It is a very strong base upon which to build further.
BBSRC is a research council funding academic research in this space, and nurturing its translation into benefits for the UK. Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director, Innovation and Skills, said:
This event provides a showcase for UK excellence. British bioscience is world-leading and synthetic biology offers us great opportunities in areas like health, energy and useful chemicals. These winning companies are driving forward the translation of research into benefits for society and the economy.
Tim Fell, Chief Executive Officer at Synthace and Chair of the BIA's Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee, said:
On behalf of all the competition winners I would like to thank the BIA, UKTI, TSB and BBSRC for this prestigious and valuable opportunity to represent the UK synbio community at this important global event. Their coordinated efforts are greatly appreciated and underscore why the UK is such a favourable environment to engage in synthetic biology research.