Department for Science, Innovation and Technology seeks community input on engineering biology plans

The UK government Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is seeking views from the engineering biology research and business community to inform the development of a national engineering biology policy.

Science and Technology Secretary, Chloe Smith, has invited interested parties from across the country to contribute vital advice on driving engineering biology policy development in the UK as she launches a call for evidence that will run until September.

Engineering biology harnesses the capabilities of organisms, processes and mechanisms that exist in nature and combines this with advances in areas such as gene manipulation, processing power and machine learning. Example applications include plastic-free packaging, improved fibres for sports clothing, new green fuels, and life-saving therapies, many of which use manufacturing by-products, renewable resources or generate less CO2 compared to conventional manufacturing processes. A number of current projects in the area supported by UKRI can be reviewed here.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Chloe Smith, said:

“Engineering biology has the power to be truly revolutionary. From tackling previously untreatable diseases to transforming waste into rocket fuel, the potential really is limitless.

“Today […] is the starting point in establishing a booming sector that transforms the way we eat, live and fuel our economy, as we put our ambition to make the UK a science and technology superpower into practice.”

Engineering biology was set out as one of five critical technology areas in the government’s Science and Technology Framework and future investment is set to maintain and improve the underlying technology, research and industrial components of the sector. The government’s aim is to build an expansive ecosystem for the sector where the UK can lead the world in regulations, standards, and ethical innovation.

The call for evidence is seeking contributions in the following six areas:

  • the knowledge pipeline
  • the innovation ecosystem
  • skills
  • the value chain
  • technology adoption
  • the regulatory environment

The call asks for the experiences and insights from interested parties into the strengths, weakness and opportunities for the UK’s engineering biology ecosystem. The government will use the outcomes of this call for evidence to inform policy that will support the engineering biology ecosystem from foundational research through to consumer facing companies.

If you are an engineering biology researcher, businessperson or other interested party, you can have your say by submitting your contribution before 11:45pm on 29 September 2023.

Read and respond to the call here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/engineering-biology-call-for-evidence