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Follow-on Fund Synthetic Biology Highlight

Copyright: iStock/Meletios Verras

Call status: Open
Application deadline: 9 October 2019, 16:00


Our Follow-on Funding (FoF) supports the translation of research into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research. The FoF is a proof-of-concept programme to support bioscience innovation and provide funding where further work on an idea will take it through to a stage at which the route to application is clear, which may include a spin-out, licensing opportunity or the creation of a social enterprise. The programme enables researchers to conduct activities essential to preparing a robust business plan and to secure, where appropriate, further funding and support to progress the project.

The FoF aims to bridge the funding gap between BBSRC-funded research and the point at which other non-BBSRC funding becomes available. By supporting early-stage projects, it also seeks to reduce the risk for future investors. The FoF should not duplicate other sources of public and private funding.

Synthetic Biology Highlight

The Follow on Fund Synthetic Biology Highlight will support FoF and Super FoF grants to accelerate commercialisation and translation of research in the field of synthetic biology. BBSRC has allocated an additional £600,000 to the 19FoF2 call, with the aim of supporting the translation of the UK’s world-leading synthetic biology research into practical application.

Synthetic biology can be described as the design and construction of novel biologically based parts, devices and systems, as well as redesigning existing biological systems for useful purposes. It incorporates the principles of engineering (for example modularity, abstraction and orthogonality) into classical biotechnology, and has a number of potential applications within the bio-based knowledge economy. These include, but are not limited to: industrial biotechnology, bioenergy, bioprocessing, novel materials and biosensors.

We are keen to support proposals which build upon underpinning research from the following areas:

  • Orthogonal biosystems: Engineering cells/organisms to include systems or parts not found in nature to impart new capacities or chemistry
  • Regulatory circuits: Designing and inserting well-characterised modules (circuits or networks), to generate new functions or responses in cells and organisms
  • Protocells: Bottom-up chemical design approaches to produce (semi-)synthetic cells and compartments
  • Metabolic engineering: Using complex modifications informed by predictive models, of biosynthetic pathways to allow/enhance production of useful products
  • Minimal genomes: Understanding the minimal number of parts (genes) needed for life, to serve as a chassis for engineering minimal cell factories for new functions
  • Bionanoscience: Utilising and exploiting synthetic molecular (nano) machines based on cellular systems

In addition to the above research areas, BBSRC invites proposals for early-stage development of products or services which utilise state-of-the-art technologies for high throughput analysis, design or manufacturing of biologically based parts or biological systems. We also welcome applications to develop products/services to improve the productivity of biomanufacturing processes.

As with all Follow-on-Funding, projects must draw substantially on previous research funding by BBSRC, this includes projects funded by BBSRC through responsive mode, the IB Catalyst, Newton Fund programmes co-funded by BBSRC such as SuBB, European programmes co-funded by BBSRC such as ERASynBio, ERA CoBioTech, ERA-IB, ERA Bioenergy and ERA-Net Plus BESTF and EPSRC research programmes co-funded by BBSRC such as Synthetic Biology for Protective Materials and Supergen. Research supported by NIBB Proof of Concept funding or Business Interaction Vouchers alone is not eligible as the basis for a FoF project.

How to apply

Applicants should refer to guidance provided on the BBSRC Follow-on Funding call page for information about how to apply to the Follow-on Fund scheme. This page contains links to comprehensive guidance for preparing a submission to the FoF, including information about eligibility.

  • Apply via: Je-S system. Guidance on how to use the system is available on Je-S or you can contact the helpdesk using the details below

Je-S system queries

For queries using Je-S, the helpdesk can be contacted Monday to Thursday 08:30-17:00 and Fridays 08:30-16:30 UK time (excluding bank holidays and other holidays) by email: or tel: 01793 444164 (out of hours please leave a voicemail message).

Please provide:

  • Your name, organisation and user ID
  • Date and time
  • Which part of the form or system you were working on
  • The nature of the problem.

Related calls: synthetic biology Industrial biotechnology innovation industrial biotechnology commercialisation