UK Biofilm Capability Boosted By New Funding

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK invest £7.5m to support National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) Phase 2 roll out.

Announced during Biofilm Week, the £7.5m funding boost from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK will build upon NBIC’s collective strength as the UK’s national centre and support the continued expansion of world-class research and innovation.

In addition to the funding provided by BBSRC and Innovate UK, we have also secured a further £9.5m from our four lead universities (Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton) as well as £6.4m industrial support, taking Phase 2 funding to a total of £23.4m.

Biofilms are central to our most important global challenges, from antimicrobial resistance and food safety to water security. They also provide a significant contribution to both the UK and global economy. In May 2022, we carried out a study which estimated that the value of the markets in which biofilms are involved is worth £45 billion in the UK and $4 trillion globally.

UK Biofilm Capability Funding
Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation. Maria Paula Huertas Caycedo, University of Dundee.

NBIC was launched in 2017 by our four lead universities and is led by four Co-Directors: Professors Cait MacPhee, Rasmita Raval, Miguel Cámara and Jeremy Webb respectively. To date, we have collaborated with over 150 industrial, research and public partners in the UK and overseas to develop joint-industry programmes that are tackling major economic and societal issues affecting the world today.

UK Biofilm Capability Funding
Group photo from the 2022 NBIC Summit

The latest funding from BBSRC and Innovate UK will support our vision to deliver a global innovation hub by building on its collective strengths to prevent, detect, manage and engineer biofilms. It will enable us 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. During Phase 2 we will also deliver a diverse training programme to equip the biofilm innovation ecosystem with the skills they need both now and, in the future, while also nurturing the talent of tomorrow.

This funding comes at the same time as we announce our new CEO, Professor Jo Slater-Jefferies. Professor Slater-Jefferies joined NBIC in April 2018 and brings a wealth of experience and leadership in knowledge exchange, academic and industry collaboration and strategic research programmes to the role.

BBSRC and Innovate UK’s latest investment means work can continue across sectors and disciplines to identify new areas of opportunity in the development of innovative technologies in translational research that will address the detrimental effects of biofilms while exploiting the significant benefits they bring.


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

“I am delighted to announce a further £7.5 million joint investment from BBSRC and Innovate UK in support of NBIC Phase 2, which builds upon our £12.5 million investment from Phase 1. On behalf of BBSRC, I congratulate Professor Slater-Jefferies on her appointment as the new CEO of NBIC. This is a vital strategic partnership investment for BBSRC and Innovate UK that has delivered outstanding impacts over the past five years. I am therefore pleased that BBSRC and Innovate UK will continue to take a joint approach to co-investing in, and providing strategic support for, NBIC over the next five years.”

UK Biofilm Capability Funding
Professor Slater-Jefferies, NBIC CEO

Richard Hebdon, Director for Health and Life Sciences at Innovate UK, said:

“NBIC has established itself as a key part of the UK’s life sciences ecosystem and supports innovation through to commercialisation. It enables businesses to access partners, facilities and funding while providing a single point of contact for advice and support. As well as making the UK more attractive to inward investment by driving the development and adoption of international standards, it also promotes UK research and innovation on the international stage. NBIC has demonstrated that it can effectively drive the translation of research into industry and create a pipeline of cross-disciplinary, industry-ready skills and talent. Innovate UK congratulates Professor Slater-Jefferies on her appointment to the role of CEO at this exciting time for NBIC, as Innovate UK and BBSRC commit to funding the national centre for the next five years.”

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

“Over the last five years NBIC has become an internationally renowned Innovation and Knowledge Centre, connecting the UK’s biofilm research and innovation ecosystem to enable the translation of biofilm research to benefit the economy, society and the environment. This award will enable NBIC to tackle challenging research and innovation questions in the biofilm field, make step changes in biofilm standards and regulations and train the next generation of thought leaders and entrepreneurs. I am delighted to be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer for NBIC, and I look forward to working with the four NBIC Co-Directors and the global biofilms community in delivering our vision.”

Find out more about our achievements to date in our 2022 Annual Report.

You can view the BBSRC news article here. 

UK Biofilm Capability Funding
False-coloured mesoscopic image of two adjacent Escherichia coli biofilms. Liam Rooney, Department of Physics, University of Strathclyde.