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A vibrant synthetic biology ecosystem has developed in the UK – promising new jobs and valuable technology

  • Posted on 21 July

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”.

Register to receive a copy of the full report here.

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Notes for Editors

About SynbiCITE
http://www.synbicite.com
SynbiCITE is a pioneering Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) dedicated to promoting the adoption and use of synthetic biology by industry. SynbiCITE and partners across the UK and globally are committed to developing this technology through responsible innovation which encompasses ethical, societal and environmental considerations. SynbiCITE is based at Imperial College London and is - with partners from industry, academia and organisations that help develop business growth - accelerating the commercialisation of world-class science and the emerging technologies encompassed by synthetic biology into new products, tools, processes and services. SynbiCITE is growing UK industry in the sector and improving synthetic biology innovation, using industry to achieve significant economic impact, generate wealth for the companies, generate skilled workers and create jobs.