Businesses are being invited to develop standard tools and services that will help grow the emerging industry of synthetic biology. Up to $5.1 million is being made available by the Technology Strategy Board, together with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Welsh Government.
Synthetic biology applies engineering tools and approaches to biological cells, biochemical pathways and whole organisms. Potential applications include new ways of making high-value materials such as fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals, renewable energy sources, processes for detecting and addressing environmental contamination and increased agricultural productivity.
David Willetts, U.K. Science Minister, said, "Synthetic biology has the potential to create products such as new antibiotics. Establishing new tools and services for the development of synthetic biology will significantly increase the rate of commercialization in this emerging sector."
While research in synthetic biology is moving fast, expanding this to commercial scale will take some time. Tthe funding support is designed to encourage projects that achieve greater efficiency in synthetic biology production methods.
The projected global market for this technology is approximately $10 billion by 2016.