Engineering Biology for a Better World
- Posted on 14 March, 2017
Two recent events saw SynbiCITE working in partnership with OBN to connect with new audiences; a Senior Executive Breakfast at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London in late February, and the BioTuesday on ‘Engineering Biology for a Better World’ at the Mathematical Institute in Oxford in early March. Both drew on the idea of engineering biology as a technology with the power to ‘heal us, feed us and fuel us’.
We were delighted to be able to bring some of our exciting business partners along to present to the audiences. Based on discussions with participants in the networking sessions afterwards, all these companies had a ‘wow’ factor that took people by surprise. They included:
- Prokarium: Oral vaccine delivery
- CustoMem: Customisable ultrafiltration membranes
- Oxford Genetics: Synthetic biology-based technologies
- Touchlight Genetics: Next generation DNA products
- Oxitec: Insect control
As John Collins, Commercial Director at SynbiCITE, described - ‘at the start of a gold rush, it’s the people who make the picks and shovels who are successful at first’. That also holds true for engineering biology, as Oxford Genetics and Touchlight, amongst others, demonstrate.
This industry is rapidly evolving though, with tools and platforms making way for applications that include designer biomaterials, consumer products, platforms for environmental sustainability, metabolic engineering, the circular economy, hardware, software, automation and healthcare. Oxitec, CustoMem and Prokarium illustrated just a few of the many possible applications, but it was probably the maturity of their businesses that surprised attendees the most. Those of us who are used to life in the biotech sector are familiar with the lengthy lead times that healthcare products need for development. What we heard from these companies was that they are already in the market or close to it.
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