Biofilm Prevention Report

We hosted our fourth academic/industry workshop on Biofilm Prevention in Birmingham on 24 February 2021. We thank all those who attended and contributed to the workshop.

Executive Summary

This workshop was aimed at exploring unmet industrial needs and resulting research questions in the field of biofilm prevention.

NBIC partner organisations shared their experience and attendees worked in syndicates to discuss the key challenges and ways to overcome them.

The ability to control and prevent biofilms is central to some of the most urgent global challenges, which exert considerable economic impact across many industry sectors. The potential benefits of harnessing the power of biofilms are equally profound, offering significant opportunities for creating economic and societal benefits.

Biofilm prevention aims at limiting or preventing the early-stage microbial adhesion and colonisation events at surfaces. The remit of biofilm prevention spans multiple sectors for which avoiding biofilms altogether is a key goal.

The main needs that emerged were:

  • There remain many areas in which continued basic research is needed: (i) the factors and interventions that promote or inhibit biofilm formation, (ii) the early colonisation mechanisms leading to biofilm formation, (iii) the heterogeneous nature of early stage biofilms and the resultant impacts on their behaviour, (iv) the spatialtemporal dynamics of bacterial strains in mixed early stage biofilms, (v) can and how microbes adapt to different surfaces?, (vi) use of advanced techniques to answer these fundamental questions, (vii) the need for interdisciplinary science to develop the knowledge base required to master prevention or early control of colonisation.
  • A continued focus on translation. The block to progress is not solely the basic research gaps, but an inability to readily translate possible solutions into commercial practice due to challenges in upscaling technologies that are reliable, low-cost, robust and within regulatory guidelines.
  • A clearer focus on standards and regulations is required for the approval of products aimed at preventing and controlling biofilms.
  • Overcoming the lag that occurs during new technology adoption into the market, that can often put at peril the commercial survival of new technology.
  • A need for a more unified terminology e.g. being clear on the distinction/overlap between stages of biofilm growth, with clear delineation of the early development phases that span adhesion to the onset of irreversible attachment.
  • Close and active collaborations in this field across and between academia and industry.


Publication date: 27/04/2023. Author: The National Biofilms Innovation Centre. 


You can view each of our workshop reports relating to biofilm detection, biofilm management and biofilm engineering on our Publications and Reports page.