Confirmed Funding of a Further 14 Projects Tackling and Exploiting Biofilms
A third portfolio of projects launched in the UK between universities and industry partners with a primary focus on controlling and exploiting biofilms
We are delighted to share that a further 14 projects have been awarded funding from the third Proof of Concept (POC) call launched earlier this year.
We received 45 applications from 24 different Research Institutions involving 46 companies. This third group of projects continues to address a wide range of sectors and challenges across health, hygiene, industrial processing, food, water, oral care, personal care, anaerobic digestion, waste and wastewater and biotechnology. We had reserved 30% of funding for projects with an Engineering theme to build on our Biofilm Engineering workshop, which took place in Edinburgh in April 2019. In fact, we are delighted that over 40% of funding was awarded to projects with a clear engineering theme (this definition for each project was checked by project reviewers). This demonstrates the impact our networking and workshops had on stimulating these applications.
We were involved with the formation of several partnerships via our targeted matching of need and solution leading to POC applications. The collaboration between our affiliated research institutions and industry is key to understanding biofilms and producing innovative solutions to the societal challenges they present, currently impacting ~$5 trillion dollars in global economic activity (approx. double the UK GDP). All projects work across the major strategic NBIC themes: Prevent, Detect, Manage and Engineer biofilms, and are a step forward in capitalising on the world-class research based in the UK to tackle the sectoral challenges identified with industry partners.
All project applications were sent to our wonderful volunteer pool of 65 independent assessors from academia and industry, and each project was assigned to at least one academic and one industry assessor. Projects were assessed rigorously, across a number of key criteria, including: the quality of the collaboration; the quality of the science; the level of innovation; the potential for future application and the next steps if successful; the credibility of the project plan and the work needed to be done; the demonstrated extent of engagement with industry or external stakeholders and their level of commitment and the alignment of project goals with the NBIC strategy. The review panel consisted of 5 Academics and 5 Industrialists, all with biofilm research or industry experience in R&D. The panel was chaired by an Industry professional but from outside the biofilm community. Finally, the whole process was checked and approved by our Non-Executive Board.
Our contribution is between £25-50k for each project. In total we are investing approximately £0.81m in these projects. Projects were also encouraged to propose additional sources of funding and in-kind support (in order to enhance the quality of the bid and the outcomes anticipated), bringing the total value to £1.3m. As part of this programme, we have also awarded funding to 7 SMEs involved in projects totalling £117k. We will help to support and facilitate the relationship between Research Institutions and Industry Partners and project leads are expected to report to NBIC on a regular basis regarding project progress.
“This third set of awarded projects brings our total portfolio of funded projects to 65 across diverse companies, sectors and research institutions. As the first of our portfolio of projects come to completion and mature, we are now looking to see their further progress and how NBIC can help. In the current Covid-19 affected science landscape we are working with holders of active projects to understand how NBIC can be flexible and help them ensure their projects successfully complete.”
Mark Richardson CEO, NBIC.
Research and Innovation are central to the UK government’s long-term Industrial Strategy to raise productivity and earning power, and Innovation Knowledge Centres (IKCs) are a key vehicle in achieving this. NBIC is an IKC funded by the BBSRC, Innovate UK and the Hartree Centre, specifically focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities biofilms present, and finding innovative solutions to overcome or utilise them by joining world-class researchers and industry together.