NBIC Confirm Funding of a Further 18 Projects Tackling and Exploiting Biofilms
A fourth portfolio of projects awarded in the UK between universities and industry partners with a focus on controlling and exploiting biofilms. This brings the National Biofilm Innovation Centre (NBIC)’s portfolio of projects funded since it launched in December 2017 to 81 representing a programme value of £6.7m.
NBIC are delighted to share that a further 18 projects have been awarded funding from their fourth Proof of Concept (POC) call launched earlier this year.
NBIC received a record 61 applications involving 92 different collaborative partners, demonstrating the breadth of biofilm related problems and opportunities across a wide range of sectors. These include health, hygiene, industrial processing, food, water, oral care, personal care, anaerobic digestion, waste and wastewater and biotechnology.
NBIC were involved with the formation of several partnerships via their targeted matching of need and solution leading to POC applications. The collaboration between NBIC’s 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 NBIC’s volunteer pool of around 100 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 6 Academics and 6 industrialists, all with biofilm research or industry experience in R&D. The panel was chaired by an Industry professional from outside the biofilm community. Finally, the whole process was checked and approved by the NBIC Non-Executive Board.
NBIC’s contribution is between £25-50k for each project. In total they 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 £1.7m. NBIC 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.
“We received a record number of applications for our fourth call, and from an even more diverse set of sectors and universities all collaborating with UK industry or stakeholders (e.g., NHS). The importance of understanding the role microbial communities can play both good and bad in our life and economy has never been greater. They provide not only problems to be tackled, such as in controlling disease transmission, but also opportunities to exploit, such as in carbon capture and water treatment”.
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.