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Strategic Plan: The age of bioscience

Light micrograph showing chloroplasts in plant cells. John Durham, Science Photo Library
Light micrograph showing chloroplasts in plant cells. Image: John Durham/Science Photo Library

BBSRC's vision is to lead world-class 21st century bioscience, promoting innovation in the bioeconomy, and realising benefits for society within and beyond the UK.

The 21st century is the age of bioscience. A biological revolution is unfolding in the same way that advances in physics shaped the early 20th century and great leaps in electronics and computing have transformed our lives over the past 40 years.

New tools and technologies, advances in computation and multidisciplinary approaches are changing the way in which bioscience is undertaken. Never before have researchers generated and had access to such large data sets, and been able to explore such a range, depth and complexity of questions about living systems and how they function.

BBSRC has a unique and central place in supporting the UK's world-leading position in bioscience. Our funding for research and training provides knowledge and skilled people thereby making major contributions across society and the economy by:

  • ensuring a supply of excellent scientists into UK industry and public bodies
  • supporting the development of new technologies that improve lives and boost the economy
  • enabling the emergence of new companies and supporting existing ones underpinned by BBSRC research, technology, infrastructure and people
  • helping to create centres of excellence which attract inward investment from overseas, bringing employment and income
Zoonar Thinkstock
Image: Zoonar/Thinkstock

Excellent bioscience underpins and drives advances in medicine and health, 'green materials', new pharmaceuticals, and safe and nutritious food; it leads to more sustainable agriculture, helps to combat infectious diseases and underpins responses to climate change.

In the coming decades bioscience will be at the heart of providing solutions to major challenges facing humankind such as:

  • feeding nine billion people sustainably by 2050
  • developing renewable 'low carbon' sources of energy, transport fuels and chemicals to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  • staying healthier for longer as lifespans increase and society ages

Building on the UK's strength, this Strategic Plan continues to drive UK bioscience forward, exploiting new and exciting ways of working and thinking. We will ensure that UK bioscience stays world-class and delivers significant social and economic benefits. The rate of progress will depend on our future budget but support for cutting edge bioscience and skills will remain the overarching priority.


…the first rough draft of the human genome, published in 2001, was a landmark achievement, which took the concerted effort of several international laboratories more than 10 years to produce. Today, draft genome sequences of this scale are generated by single laboratories in a matter of hours…