Biofilm Impact On A Global Scale

Wherever microbes either cause a problem or create an opportunity, to humans, animals or the environment, then the communities in which they live (biofilms) have a role to play. NBIC carried out a study to quantify the value of the markets in which biofilms are involved. The study titled Economic significance of biofilms: a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral challenge was published in NPJ Biofilms and Microbiomes in 2022. We conservatively estimate this is £45bn in the UK and $4tn globally. 

Our study has shown that although biofilms are diverse in their impacts on humans, animals and the environment, there are scientific and technological challenges that are common to many sectors as described in the NBIC interventional themes of Prevention, Detection, Management and Engineering.

These common challenges underpin the need for the research and innovation occurring across all these sectors to be well connected as a community via NBIC, so that early breakthroughs can be exploited, and solutions from one sector considered in other fields. We exist to match solutions and needs in an effective and efficient manner. This is critical in order to achieve economic and societal bene fits as well as developing the skills and knowledge scientists and technologists need to understand and solve both problems and the opportunities.


We created eight infographics to reflect the results of this study, and to show the huge impact that biofilms have on our global economy. These NBIC infographics can be used as posters for educational and teaching purposes and as part of public engagement activities. Each infographic is available to download either individually, or as a combined pdf file below.


Cámara, M., Green, W., MacPhee, C.E. et al. Economic significance of biofilms: a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral challenge. npj Biofilms Microbiomes 8, 42 (2022):


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