Boost to funding for biofilm research and innovation


As one of NBIC’s four main research institutions, Southampton is home to the largest group of biofilm scholars in the UK and is distinguished by its interdisciplinary approach. It brings together expertise from biological sciences, medicine, chemistry, computer modelling, engineering and ocean science, and creates an impact of medicine and industry on the environment.

NBIC is a UK-based knowledge and innovation center that supports the continued expansion of world-class interdisciplinary research and industry partnerships to deliver breakthrough science and technologies to control and exploit biofilms.

Biofilms are all around us in both harmful and helpful ways. From mud on rocks in waterways to dental plaque on our teeth, they are at the heart of important global challenges, from antimicrobial resistance and food safety to water safety.

They also make a significant contribution to the UK and global economy. In May 2022, a study by NBIC estimated that the value of the markets in which biofilms are involved is worth £45 billion in the UK and $4 trillion worldwide.

In addition to funding provided by BBSRC and Innovate UK, NBIC has also secured an additional £9.5m from its four core universities (Southampton, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham) as well as industry support of £6.4m. pounds, bringing its phase 2 funding to a total of £23.4m.

The latest funding, which comes at the same time as NBIC announces its new CEO, Professor Jo Slater-Jefferies, will support NBIC’s vision to provide a global center of innovation to prevent, detect, manage and engineer biofilms. This will allow the NBIC to continue to evolve standards and regulations and provide a diverse training and talent program.

Professor Jeremy Webb

NBIC University of Southampton Co-Director Professor Jeremy Webb said:

“Biofilms are at the heart of some of the world’s most pressing challenges in various application areas, from medicine and industry to energy and the environment.

“I am delighted that the UK’s world-class expertise in biofilm research and innovation has been recognized with the Phase 2 award. as a global center and now connects academic research and commercial activity in the UK and around the world.

“At Southampton, we are home to some of the most advanced research and business opportunities in this field which bring together and integrate many disciplines across the university. This new award will allow us to deliver groundbreaking new science and create new industries and technologies to control and exploit biofilms.

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

“I am delighted to announce an additional £7.5m joint investment from BBSRC and Innovate UK in support of NBIC Phase 2, which builds on our £12.5m investment. Sterling from Phase 1. On behalf of BBSRC, I congratulate Professor Slater-Jefferies on his appointment as the new CEO of NBIC.

“This is a vital strategic partnership investment for BBSRC and Innovate UK that has had outstanding impacts over the past five years. I am therefore delighted that BBSRC and Innovate UK will continue to take a joint approach to co-invest and provide strategic support to NBIC over the next five years.

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

“NBIC has established itself as a key part of the UK life sciences ecosystem and supports innovation through to commercialization. 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 foreign investment by stimulating 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 an industry-ready pool of interdisciplinary skills and talent. Innovate UK congratulates Professor Slater-Jefferies on her appointment as CEO at this exciting time for NBIC, as Innovate UK and BBSRC pledge to fund the national center for the next five years.

The latest investment from BBSRC and Innovate UK means the University, alongside its NBIC partners, can continue to tackle the damaging effects of biofilms while harnessing the significant benefits they bring.


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