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UK's bioeconomy benefits from £319 million BBSRC investment

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News from: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) announced a substantial £319 million investment provided by the government to ensure the UK’s bioscience research base remains internationally competitive and at the forefront of meeting global challenges in feeding a growing population, replacing fossil fuels and healthy ageing.

“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we will use all the tools at our disposal to stimulate growth in every part of the country, ensuring that prosperity is more evenly spread,” said Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark. “Science, research and innovation are at the heart of the Industrial Strategy which is why we’re providing more than £4.7 billion of additional funding over the next five years, including the £319 million for bioscience research.”

The investments, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will allow BBSRC to back institutes across the country for the next five years. The funding will be awarded through 17 strategic programmes to institutes – in some cases across institutes and other research organisations. The awards follow a robust, independent and international peer review process.

“BBSRC’s strategic funding investments in research, people and vital national capabilities at world leading bioscience institutes will deliver new knowledge and innovation and help realise the potential of a bio-based economy,” said Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Chief Executive. “The positive impacts in food, agriculture, energy, materials and health will help drive economic growth and deliver benefits to society across the UK and beyond.”

The investments have a vital role in supporting BBSRC’s mission to further scientific knowledge, promote economic growth and job creation in important sectors such as food, farming, renewables and pharmaceuticals – delivering an even more productive UK bioeconomy.

This major investment was made following the 2016 Institute Assessment Exercise – a rigorous, independent assessment carried out by BBSRC every five years to examine the excellence of the science and how it is meeting strategic objectives. The funding is confirmed until the end of this spending review period and then indicative, depending on BBSRC’s future allocations.


Notes to editors

BBSRC’s strategic research investments at the institutes are:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Animals: The Roslin Institute
  • Control of Infectious Diseases: The Roslin Institute
  • Designing Future Wheat: John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, Earlham Institute, University of Bristol, EMBL-EBI, NIAB, The University of Nottingham
  • From Genomes to Food Security Core Strategic Programme: Earlham Institute
  • Enhanced host responses for disease control: The Pirbright Institute
  • Epigenetics in development and ageing: Babraham Institute
  • Resilient Crops Core Strategic Programme: Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences
  • Genes in the Environment: John Innes Centre
  • Improving Animal Production & Welfare: The Roslin Institute
  • Keeping you healthier for longer as you age: Babraham Institute
  • Molecules from Nature: John Innes Centre
  • Plant Health: John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory
  • Soil to Nutrition (Optimising Nutrient Flow): Rothamsted Research
  • Tailoring Plant Metabolism for the Bioeconomy: Rothamsted Research
  • Understanding and preventing viral diseases: The Pirbright Institute
  • Understanding the immune system to extend health span: Babraham Institute
  • Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems: Rothamsted Research, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, British Geological Survey. (Co-funded with the Natural Environment Research Council following their assessment process in 2015)

About the Institute Assessment Exercise

BBSRC used a robust peer review system to assess the proposals. The proposals were peer reviewed by international experts. The peer review was followed by meetings in late September 2016 of individual Institute Assessment Panels and a concluding final Institute Assessment Panel.

All proposals were deemed, in principle, fundable. As with other BBSRC funding mechanisms not all proposals have been funded. BBSRC Council made final funding decisions in December 2016.

The Institute of Food Research (IFR) was not included in this IAE process. Following a peer-review process, IFR received a one year extension of current funding levels, because it is currently in the middle of restructuring and incorporation within the Quadram Institute (QI). Institute Strategic Programme Grants as part of QI will be going through the same process this year to determine its strategic funding from 1 April 2018.

The figure of £319 million is centred on the Institute Strategic Programme Grants and includes associated grant funding such as Core Capability Grants and Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Grants.


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: policy funding industrial strategy institutes BEIS BBSRC press release