NBIC Generates Significant Economic Impact

A new independent economic review, from Black Kite Ltd, highlights a number of significant impacts following the £16m investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK into the National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) between December 2017 and December 2022, demonstrating a total impact of approximately £204m, extending throughout the UK economy.

A key outcome found in the economic review is job creation, with 51 positions established, including secondments, research posts, and jobs at spin-out companies. In addition, our influence has contributed to the creation and development of an additional 50 jobs, as well as nurturing talent, with 76 students benefiting from support, including 66 PhD candidates, 6 of whom are international students.

Our Proof of Concept projects have demonstrated environmental and social benefits, estimated at £23m and £30.5m. Engaging with over three hundred businesses, including leading corporations, as well as numerous SMEs, we continue to expand the NBIC network of collaborators. These span a wide range of sectors, including health, water management, marine and food production.

annual report 2021
A false-coloured mesoscopic image of two adjacent Escherichia coli biofilms. Image by Dr Liam Rooney, Strathclyde Institute for Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 

Our four core universities have attracted an additional £32.9m of public and private funds, which is estimated to have an economic output of almost £43m so far, with a greater economic value still to be realised as the additional research funds are used. In addition, clusters of biofilm activity within the regions of our partner universities have attracted further public and industry funding, with an estimated total impact of £8.1m.

We have established international partnerships with renowned institutions such as the Centre for Biofilm Engineering in Montana and the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, playing a leading role in forming the International Biofilm Standards Task Group.

In December 2022, BBSRC and Innovate UK invested a further £7.5m to support Phase 2 of the programme to enable our centre to drive the adoption of innovative solutions across industry sectors to address major global challenges including climate change, water safety and improved healthcare. It will also drive step-changes in standards and regulation for novel biofilm solutions that support international trade.

UKRI recently commissioned an independent review into the IKC programme to gain an understanding of the programme’s impact to date, feedback on the scheme and recommendations for future evolution, which evidences further our contribution to research and innovation in the UK. 

Dr Lee Beniston FRSB, Associate Director for Industry Partnerships and Collaboration at BBSRC, said:

“There have been so many impressive achievements at NBIC since the centre was established in 2017, which I have had the privilege of being part of. I am delighted that now, through this economic review, there is an opportunity to share and celebrate this success. I offer my congratulations to all those at NBIC, as well as the wider research and innovation communities which NBIC supports, for their role in making NBIC the globally recognised centre of excellence in biofilms research and innovation that it is today. The underpinning collaboration between BBSRC and Innovate UK has been a critical part of this success which I am delighted to see continue for another five years in support of NBIC Phase 2.”


Dr Stella Peace, Executive Director for the Healthy Living & Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

“We are pleased to see the economic impact and job creation stemming from this successful investment. NBIC assumes a central and critical role in uniting businesses and academic experts to tackle the challenges and opportunities presented by biofilms. It illustrates our commitment to driving innovation and supporting the growth of businesses that contribute to the UK’s prosperity.”


Professor Jo Slater-Jefferies, Chief Executive Officer at NBIC, said:

“This independent review evidences the impact that NBIC has made over our first 5 years. Through our research, innovation and training initiatives, we will continue to solve the challenges that are presented by biofilms globally, and with our academic and industry partnerships, seek to solve these challenges for the benefit of the UK. Through the support of BBSRC and Innovate UK we have become an impactful national asset that will continue to grow.”

More information on NBIC’s impact can be found in our NBIC 2023 Annual Report.