Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Cluster

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chem Eng and Analytical Science


Industrial Biotechnology (IB) is a set of cross-disciplinary technologies that uses biological resources for producing and processing everyday products such as food, fuels, and medicines. The field is poised for dramatic growth and has the potential to disrupt markets worth more than £34bn in the UK alone. A confluence of consumer demand, Government carbon emission targets, feedstock production efficiencies, fundamental and technical innovation has created a perfect situation for the industry to significantly expand. This paradigm shift capitalises on the strengths of a vast range of scientific and engineering disciplines which form the foundation for leveraging the rapid, specialised, and competitive growth of the sector.

Industrial Biotechnology is an area in which the North-West (NW) of England has critical mass and is rapidly emerging as a world leading cluster. The region is home to some of the world's biggest healthcare and biomanufacturing companies, including AstraZeneca, Teva, Croda and Unilever, and the first commercial production of a biologic was in Speke with Eli Lilly's manufacture of insulin. The NW is home to several SME innovation zones, including Daresbury, Liverpool Knowledge Quarter and Alderley Park, which is the UK's largest single site life science campus. IB in the region employs 25,000 people and has a turnover of over £6Bn. The HEI sector is also thriving and recognised for its internationally leading IB research and unique facilities, purpose-built for innovation. Most recently demonstrated by the University of Manchester's Queens Anniversary Prize for higher education, which recognised the world-leading biotechnology expertise of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology that sign-posts towards a bio industrial revolution. Translating IB to meet urgent societal needs will not happen spontaneously; an integrated strategy, cluster of translational activity and innovation ecosystem are essential.

The NW has co-location of organisations, knowledge, skills and facilities which have already demonstrated they can promote connection and collaboration - enabling those in the region to operate more flexibly and productively. Here, we will concentrate and build our regional strengths in academia, business, civic partners, accelerators, investors and creatives with civil society and establish the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Cluster (IBIC) with the aim of accelerating commercial exploitation of our outputs and delivering economic, social and scientific impact. United by a culture of ethics, diversity, and openness, the cluster will provide businesses with access to cutting-edge R&D knowledge, capabilities and infrastructure as well as innovation finance, skills training, and specialist support and advice. IBIC will be led by The University of Manchester and headquartered in the new Innovation District in Manchester - at the heart of the north's growing economy. It has been co-created with the University of Liverpool and our wider Civic and Business Partners. It is fully aligned with Greater Manchester and Liverpool Civic Partners strategies to increase the benefit and accelerate the impact of fundamental research across the region, and more broadly the UK economy and society. IBIC will enable the UK to realise its ambition to be a global biotechnology research and innovation superpower.

The IBIC is expected to directly stimulate £2.5M cash and £4M in-kind co-investment, establish 150 collaborative projects, train 200+ students to enter careers within IB, create up to 100 green jobs, and establish 20+ new commercial ventures attracting a further £10M in investment to the North-West, generating as a minimum 3:1 economic return to public investment over the medium term. It will have a long-term legacy by helping establish IBIC as an independent and business-led cluster of excellence and by enabling society to overcome challenges in energy security, disease, and hunger mitigation.


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