SynbiCITE 2.0

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Bioengineering

Abstract

Synthetic biology is a new and exciting research field that brings together biological scientists and engineers with the aim of developing new ways to build and alter biological systems and cells.

Biological cells can perform a vast array of activities driven by instructions, which are encoded by DNA. This DNA makes up the cells genome, which act as a blueprint for different types of cells and is composed of four complementary chemical building blocks called nucleotides (G, C, A and T) linked together in a sequence. The beauty of DNA is that these building blocks pair up specifically (G-C and A-T) thus the DNA template can be easily copied and replicated. The instructions encoded in DNA are translated specifically into an array of large molecules called proteins which act as the engines of the cell performing all the necessary functions for cells to live divide and grow e.g. the conversion of food sources like sugar into energy. Over the last 20 years advances in our ability to 'read' DNA has rapidly improved so that today DNA can be read rapidly, accurately and inexpensively. The DNA sequences are the basic instruction set for a particular cell to instruct it to produce specific entities, such as proteins. Advances in the chemical synthesis of DNA have resulted in the increasing ability to 'write' DNA. Synthetic Biology/Engineering Biology provides an engineering framework that allows researchers to design and write synthetic DNA tailored to specific applications - such that the synthetic DNA sequences can be placed in cells to perform specific human defined functions. The basic technology, that can be applied across a range of applications, is called platform or foundational technology. Application areas include: health, bioenergy, crops and soil, fine and bulk chemicals, bio remediation, biosensors and biomaterials.

UK centre for the industrial translation of synthetic biology (SynbiCITE) are supported start-ups and SMEs in the field, as well as working on projects with a range of multinational companies. SynbiCITE
provides support in three principal ways: (a) by providing and channelling scientific and technical expertise; (b) acting as a conduit for funding - particularly private sector funding; and (c) providing business education. These are seen as key components in the industrial translation of the science base. The practical implementation of the strategy is via three hubs of activity within SynbiCITE:

- The BioDesign and Applications Hub - supports design, and supports and manages proof of concept and development projects
- The Business and Outreach Hub - supports and manages an Investor Consortium and an industrial club, as well as providing business education and training through a four-day MBA and a business growth accelerator.
- The Facilities Hub - provides facilities and expertise in support of companies, including expertise in data analysis and learning, design automation protocol developments and more general projects and company support.

Planned Impact

The U.K.'s National Industrial Translation Centre for Synthetic Biology (SynbiCITE) started in October 2013. At the time, the industrial translation of synthetic biology was at a very early stage. Since then, there have been many reports highlighting the importance of the field to future economic development. Recently, there have been a number of important additional UK documents identifying the economic impact of the field; namely, BioDesign for the Bio Economy, the Industrial Strategy Green Paper and the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy). The SynbiCITE 2.0 Application reflects these and other documents, together with the experience gained in developing SynbiCITE through to the present. A number of important areas have been identified and addressed, based on the following needs: to accelerate industrialisation and commercialisation; to maximise the capability of a responsible innovation pipeline; build an expert workforce; develop a supportive business environment; and build value from national and international partnerships. Whilst a number of these areas have been addressed in SynbiCITE to date, the strategy for SynbiCITE 2.0 is more sharply focused to achieve even greater impact. One reason for this is the creation of six new synthetic biology research centres in the UK since 2013. SynbiCITE 2.0 will support the growth of the UK synthetic biology industry in three principal ways: (a) by providing and channelling scientific and technical expertise; (b) by acting as a conduit for funding - particularly private sector funding; and (c) providing business education.
A key component in for the strategy for SynbiCITE 2.0 is to work closely with three of the SBRCs; namely, those in Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester. Through this partnership, SynbiCITE 2.0 will interact with and impact industry in general and local SMEs, as well as other academic institutions throughout the UK. This will be achieved by extending and refining the work of the three SynbiCITE hubs. Their impact will be as follows:
(a) The BioDesign and Applications Hub - through assisting companies with bio design; the funding of proof of concept and development projects.
(b) The Business and Outreach Hub - through the establishment of an Investor Consortium and an industry club; and through business education and training (including the 4-Day MBA and the Lean LaunchPad/BioStart Programme). Under SynbiCITE 2.0, in addition to running these courses at the SynbiCITE headquarters at Imperial College, the courses to be run regularly in Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester.
(c) The Facilities Hub. The facilities hub, as it stands today, represents a major change both in the way that we undertake synthetic biology and how it is developing internationally. The key difference, compared to even three years ago, is the development of DNA foundries. These are a major additional element in our ability to support companies to achieve greater industrial impact.
More General Engagement
(a) Policy and International Development. In addition to the Government's Leadership Council for Synthetic Biology, the SBLC (Kitney is a member). Freemont and Kitney are both Fellows of the US Engineering Biology Research Consortium (the main US body in engineering biology - comprising all the major universities and companies in the field). The Directors of the SBRCs in Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester have complimentary contacts and networks both nationally and internationally.
(b) Public Engagement. Effective public engagement is essential in synthetic biology and its industrial translation. We will use the outreach providers at Imperial College, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester - and also the professional public institutes with which we are associated. Members of the Management Team and the Directors of the three partner SBRCs give numerous presentations, both nationally and internationally (e.g. at international conferences, business conferences public lectures and science fairs).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 4-Day MBA London- December 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Building a Synthetic Biology-rich Biotech Business from Scratch
The 4-Day MBA will develop the entrepreneurship of future biotechnology leaders that is so keenly demonstrated across the industry and is ideal for those wanting to start-up their own business or already in the early stages of their business. As part of the UK's drive to grow industrial biotechnology this interactive course run by SynbiCITE and SYNBIOCHEM, will cover the main strategies required to establish, build and manage a synthetic biology-rich biotechnology company with particular focus on set-up, funding and intellectual property (IP).
The course is aimed at budding entrepreneurs, from postgraduates to seasoned academics who want to gain a thorough understanding and start a business in the biotechnology sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.synbicite.com/knowledge/biotechnology-mba/
 
Description BBC Radio 4 - The Bottom Line 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Prof Kitney was a guest on Evan Davis's BBC Radio 4 programme The Bottom Line. The programme was about exciting new areas of industry and business, and how they are developing. The whole debate on the development of the new synthetic biology industry in the UK is hotting up. Post-Brexit, there does seem to be developing interest in the Government in supporting synthetic biology/engineering biology. I believe that the driver mother for much of this debate relates to the statement in the UK Government's report - Growing the BioEconomy (2019) - where the authors state that they expect the U.K.'s BioEconomy to grow from £220 billion to £440 billion by 2030. Our local estimate is that this would require the synthetic biology/engineering biology industry, plus the existing biotech industry in the UK, to grow by around £70 or £80 billion over the next 10 years. The question is how will this be achieved? In the UK we have over 150 start-ups and SMEs, many of whom are doing well - examples being LabGenius, Puraffinity, Synthace and Prokarium.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000dxv7
 
Description BIA Committee Summit - Engineering Biology Advisory Committee -London 12th Feb 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The BIA's eight advisory committees are crucial mechanisms for highlighting the most relevant issues facing bioscience companies. We are delighted to invite you to the sixth Committee Summit where our committees come together to reflect on 2019 and share their plans for 2020, as well as inform the BIA's policy and public affairs activity for the year ahead.

Professor Kitney gave a presentation about SynbiTECH 2020. Tabasum Farzaneh talked about the IC/NPL industry workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bioindustry.org/event-listing/bia-committee-summit-2020.html
 
Description BIOROBOOST on-line Round Table (standards and metrology for SynBio - incorporation of Industry feedback) 1st October 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact BIOROBOOST propose to bring together the most relevant stakeholders from all aspects of standardisation in biology in Europe in a co-creation scenario; empirically test cultural (laboratory-centered) standardization practices and promote a consensual conceptual and technical redefinition of biological standards; and, lastly, to foster a realistic and flexible toolbox of standard biological parts, including a reduced set of specialized chassis for specific applications, as well as a renewed conceptual framework to inform policy makers, scientists and other social actors.
Tabasum Farzaneh and Paul Freemont attended
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Inscripta workshop on Onyx platform, hosted by SynbiCITE12th December 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Inscripta gave a workshop on their Onyx platform, SynbiCITE hosted the workshop and advertised it to Imperial College members which is may be of some use to.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Launch of SynbiCITE's Industry Club 2nd July 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As a community we have seen that synthetic biology applications have the potential to bring about profound changes to the production of food, materials and chemicals, and help address pressing global challenges such as chronic disease, climate change and food security.
Yet we are living through unprecedented times; it may be the response to the post-COVID-19 world will provide Synthetic Biology's real breakthrough moment. The pandemic has opened doors to new SynBio approaches and has accelerated trends already in motion.
We're also heading out of the major phase of COVID-19 disruption. We're making future plans, rebuilding and re-aligning against economic development strategies for the scientific community at large.
This is why we think it is timely to launch our exclusive Industry Club; sustainable business strategies include all stakeholders, including new and emerging organisations. We're well positioned to help facilitate economic recovery; SynBiCITE is the UK's national translation and commercialisation hub for 50+ companies ranging from SMEs to multinational corporations.
The Industry Club will form an exclusive close-knit community of Synthetic Biology professionals, both in the UK and internationally. As it evolves it will provide a forum through which innovative SMEs, spin-outs and start-ups can connect and form a sense of community. It will enhance the existing relationships that already exist between SynbiCITE and numerous companies in the field, as well as help facilitate relationships with new partners.
We can act as a broker to help companies identify suitable partners capable of providing synthetic biology solutions to their problems, as well as help uncover innovative solutions that are unique to the field.
We can also reduce the barrier to entry into synthetic biology by offering the resources and facilities to explore your new technology. We offer access to SynbiCITE's London Biofoundry at the Imperial College Translation and Innovation Hub; our evolving infrastructure provides the computational and biological capabilities to rapidly design, prototype and test living systems for specific applications.
Via direct collaboration with the UK's National Measurement Institute, NPL, SynbiCITE is also playing a pivotal role in the formation of a community that is committed to addressing the standards and metrology constraints and challenges that are unique to contemporary Synthetic Biology. We're committed to engaging with our industry partners to understand such challenges, and which of those you encounter at the scale-up stage of the value chain during your strategies to commercialise.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.synbicite.com/collaboration/industry-club/
 
Description SBLC Science & Technology Subgroup Meeting -London¬† -¬† Prof Kitney chairing 10th Feb 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Set up at the end of 2012, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC), is jointly chaired by a minister and a representative from industry or academia.

Co-chairs
to be confirmed
Professor Lionel Clarke
The SBLC has overseen implementation of the roadmap recommendations and provided continued focus and leadership for the UK's interests in the rapidly developing field of SynBio. The SBLC is working with:
industry
relevant academic disciplines (including engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, the social sciences and ICT)
regulators
non-government organisations (NGOs)
other government departments
to strategically oversee the development of a successful SynBio industry sector in the UK.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) supports the SBLC as an aspect of its commitment to supporting emerging technologies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/synthetic-biology-leadership-council
 
Description SynbiTECH 2020 Virtual Conference 24-25 October 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact SynbiCITE organised and participated in this event. SynbiTECH is aimed at innovators and experts in synthetic biology research, commercialisation, investment and policymaking. Following a hugely successful maiden event in 2019, SynbiTECH Virtual 2020 focused on the greatest opportunities and challenges for building a multibillion-dollar synthetic biology industry that will contribute to the fast-growing bio-economy.
It brought together the most informed and passionate pioneers in synthetic biology. The speakers discussed a huge range of important topics including sustainability, biomaterials, transport, energy, food, DNA storage, biosecurity, investment and much, much more.
Speakers from across the world shared their opinion, insights and expertise at this event as we accelerate toward realising synthetic biology's true potential.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.synbitech.com/
 
Description SynbiTECH live: SARS-CoV-2 and Synthetic Biology - half day webinar 6th July 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact SynbiCITE organised and participated in this event.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on international public health and the world economy. Our first SynbiTECH Live webinar addresses the role of synthetic biology in the detection and treatment of COVID-19 and its potential role in combatting future pandemics.
We review the ongoing pandemic from both UK and US standpoints, with insights from leading global experts in epidemiology, infectious diseases and vaccine technology. This is followed by an overview of the role of synthetic biology in the pandemic, how it has been effectively applied to testing for the virus, and its potential for the future.
We were joined by medical scientists and clinicians directly involved in the epidemic who will share their experiences and learnings from the last few months.
The event is available to view using the URL below.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.synbitech.com/synbitech-live-6th-july-2020
 
Description SynbiTECH2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SynbiCITE ran the SynbiTECH 2019 conference. It was an international forum for experts engaged in synthetic biology investment, policymaking, science and research. The event focused on key opportunities to build a multibillion-dollar synthetic biology industry and grow the bio-economy.
Synthetic biology is fundamental to developing an innovative bio-based economy that can significantly enhance environmental sustainability, boost industrial and agricultural productivity, and lead to improved health outcomes.
SynbiTECH is an annual event that will address the key challenges and opportunities to harness synthetic biology to provide sustainable solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges
It was held in then Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster with 500+ attendees and will run again in July 2020
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.synbitech.com/
 
Description UK BioFoundry meeting at iHub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Attended by Earlham Biofoundry, Edinburgh Genome Foundry, Liverpool GeneMill, London SynbiCITE BioFoundry and Manchester SYNBIOCHEM Biofoundry. Discussion points included: Overview foundry team and close collaborators; Equipment and focus of expertise and activity; Approach to metrology; Training activities supported by the Biofoundry; Lessons learned from collaborations with academics and industry; Additional information & research examples.
Collaboration opportunities (protocols, method development, training); Business model - sustainability (funding sources, price structure benchmark); Advances in HT Synthetic Biology (automation and method development); Metrology and standards (protocols, phenotypes, references); Global Biofoundry Alliance - synergies and governance models; Trends in Synthetic Biology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019