High-throughput, DNA-based biodiversity assessment and detection for the environmental consultancy market

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Biological Sciences

Abstract

Does a proposed housing development contain protected species? Has a mining operation polluted a watershed? How can we be certain that the organic fruit we pay extra for is from nature-friendly farms? Which restoration treatment is most effective at restoring brownfield sites? Industries that have a large impact on the environment, such as mining, oil & gas, agriculture, aquaculture, and construction, need to measure the 'state of nature' as part of their operations, because failure to detect environmental damage is a source of reputational risk and legal liability, while success in protecting the environment can enhance reputation and result in premium pricing.

However, environmental surveys are notoriously difficult to carry out because nature is diverse, and most species are difficult to detect, especially out of season, and to identify reliably and quickly. The standard method of identifying species by their morphologies consumes expensive field time for collections, requires scarce taxonomic expertise, is error-prone and difficult to standardise over long time series, and most importantly, is nearly impossible to verify to third parties, which impedes dispute resolution.

The good news is that the world is permeated with DNA molecules that have been liberated from their original owners in the form of skin, mucous, saliva, sperm, eggs, faeces, urine, blood, secretions, roots, leaves, fruit, pollen, and rotting bodies, which is collectively known as environmental DNA or eDNA. It is also straightforward to collect and to extract DNA from bulk samples of plant material and mass-trapped arthropods (including the DNA of mammals and other vertebrates from blood that has been stolen by parasitic invertebrates).

Recent technological advances have now made it feasible to read biodiversity from eDNA and bulk samples, giving us lists of hundreds to thousands of animal, plant, or fungal species, which can reveal the presence of protected and/or undesirable species. Also, changes in species lists tell us when the environment has changed for the better or for the worse, letting us detect pollution events, assess the outcome of restoration interventions, and track the state of nature in general. These DNA-based methods are many times faster than even expert taxonomists and are powerful at detecting hidden species. As a result, DNA-based methods promise to greatly reduce the costs of environmental monitoring while also increasing information content. This combination will confer competitive and reputational advantages on businesses able to take advantage of this new set of technologies.

In 2012, the estimated global market for Environmental Consultancy was $27.4B, and the estimated UK market was £1.32B, of which £219M was spent on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), an 11.9% growth over 2011. In 2014, Natural England galvanised the consultancy sector by announcing that it would accept eDNA evidence to detect the endangered Great Crested Newt (a European Protected Species that features heavily in EIAs), due to eDNA's greater speed and reliability compared with visual surveys.

We propose to start a company, NatureMetrics, that will provide a range of DNA-based environmental services on a white-label basis to environmental consultancies. We will use FoF funding to set up business and laboratory procedures so that we can reliably process large numbers of samples with rapid turnaround time and at lower costs. We have partnered with four UK environmental consultancies, and our four partners will market these services within their own product lines, which will increase the effectiveness of environmental management in general.

Keywords: Biodiversity; biomonitoring; metabarcoding; mitogenomics; environmental DNA; pollution; freshwater; protected species; pollinators; environmental consultancy; infrastructure and construction; mining; oil & gas; water quality; agriculture; horticulture; forestry; conservation organisations

Planned Impact

In theory, any decent molecular lab can provide qPCR, metabarcoding, or mitogenomic analyses for environmental biomonitoring. But in practice, there are severe managerial and financial obstacles to commercial uptake and adoption. The example of eDNA for Great Crested Newt detection provides an instructive example. Despite regulatory approval early in 2014, the six laboratories that advertised their services for GCN were only able to provide months-long turnaround times, rendering the method largely valueless. Demand for GCN detection is highly seasonal, and any service provider that staffs up to meet peak demand must somehow find a way to amortise high fixed salary costs over a whole year. We believe the way to do this is to provide a suite of services that can be used by a range of clients that carry out contracts in multiple geographic locations and over the whole calendar year.

However, it is difficult to establish a full-service provider. Existing environmental consultancies do not have the necessary molecular skills in-house, especially at the management level. Any consultancy that tries to grow these skills in-house and organically will be rapidly outcompeted by consultancies that choose instead to ally with a service provider. University research groups can certainly learn the methods that we will use, but as we have discovered ourselves, university research groups face structural impediments to maintaining a technical staff that can process large numbers of samples in a consistent way over long time periods. Pure sequencing centres have the basic laboratory and bioinformatic skills and the ability to keep staff long-term, but they do not have the experience in ecology to be able to tailor their services to this market or to train end-users. Our experience is that even very experienced environmental consultants need to be taught from scratch how to collect and handle samples for DNA work.

Commercial analytical labs that provide food-quality or water-quality monitoring are the businesses that are most likely to be able to enter this market. But these businesses would also have to gain a deep understanding of ecology and how to use biodiversity data to conduct biomonitoring. It is currently unclear whether any existing analytical lab has the capacity to enter the biomonitoring market, and more importantly, whether existing analytical labs will be able to keep up with the still-rapid technical developments in this field. Thus, what we are proposing is to establish a commercial analytical lab that can draw upon our years of experience in biodiversity genomics and ecological analysis.

We believe that Follow-on-Fund support will therefore accelerate the uptake of DNA-based methods for environmental biomonitoring, with all its attendant economic and societal benefits, by supporting the establishment of the first full-service business in this space and, as a consequence, by providing a model for other companies to follow.

The commercial availability of high-volume biodiversity assessments will benefit not only environmental consultancies but also research scientists, conservation organisations, and the government, and through all these entities, the wider public, which will benefit via increased efficiency and effectiveness of environmental monitoring. An excellent potential example of this wider impact is the proposal for a national pollinator monitoring programme in the UK's National Pollinator Strategy. Our bee mitogenomic pipeline, if coupled with the commercial capacity to process large numbers of samples, will make such a monitoring programme feasible.
 
Description The purpose of the NERC Award was to help our team bring a new company to market, by funding us to work on pilot projects with potential clients. We have been successful in this, secured a first round of private financing in 2016, which let us hire full-time staff and set up a lab to carry out services commercially. As of Feb 2019, NatureMetrics employs 10 full time employees, has reached profitability, and has a dedicated environmental lab. In June 2020, NatureMetrics successfully raised £2.5 million in Series A funding, which will be used to expand operations globally. As of March 2020, NatureMetrics has 20+ full time employees.
Exploitation Route NatureMetrics provides commercial services that exploit genomics tools to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental impact assessments in the UK. A large number of private and public bodies are required to carry out EIAs in their operations, and NatureMetrics' goal is to make these EIAs both less costly and more effective.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Transport

URL http://www.naturemetrics.co.uk
 
Description The purpose of the NERC Follow-on-Fund is to commercialise NERC-funded research. Specifically, we proposed to use genomics tools (especially amplicon and metagenomic sequencing) to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental impact assessments in the UK and globally. With NERC FOF funding, we began operations in February 2015 and in the first year carried out pilot projects with potential clients and began our first revenue-generating service: environmental DNA (eDNA) detection of the Great Crested Newt (GCN), which is a UK and European protected species. As background, in 2014, the UK became the first country in the world to authorise the use of eDNA for environmental impact assessment, with Natural England prescribing a specific protocol by which GCN can be detected via its shed tissue alone in water bodies. The commercial end benefit is that an eDNA survey requires only one site visit to reliably determine if GCN is absent, whereas a conventional visual survey requires four site visits. eDNA detection thus reduces labour costs and survey delays for environmental consultancies and their clients in the infrastructure, utility, and construction companies. NatureMetrics is one of multiple UK companies providing this service, and we used the GCN revenues and gained business experience to attract private investment from the Iceni Seedcorn Fund and a syndicate of private angel investors. In early 2016, NatureMetrics was successfully launched as a standalone private company in Egham, Surrey, with a partial ownership stake by the University of East Anglia. As of March 2020, NatureMetrics employs 20+ full-time employees, 5 with Ph.Ds. It is profitable, and its revenues have doubled in each of its three years of operation. NatureMetrics has engaged in the following activities. 1) Completed a fourth GCN field season. 2) Designed a backup protocol for GCN assay and a more efficient method for water sampling, which has been presented to Natural England for approval 3) Developed an app and web-based service for online sample tracking by clients 4) Carried out commercial services for private sector clients. Project details are covered under non-disclosure agreements but in general have involved the detection of species and the characterisation of biological communities, all of which are of commercial and/or conservation interest. Clients include academics in universities, charities, and companies in the following industries: environmental consultancy, utilities, energy, and food production. 5) Carried out R&D into new analytical and laboratory methods. 6) Leading one of the working groups in an EU COST Action project (dnaqua.net) that is pooling knowledge on aquatic DNA-based monitoring for incorporation into Water Framework Directive monitoring. CEO Bruce led the drafting of the first European Standard relating to environmental DNA, which was submitted in 2018 to the European Committee for Standardization (www.cen.eu) as a 'preliminary work item proposal'. 7) Carried out a series of pilot projects for Natural England to demonstrate the use of eDNA in various management and monitoring contexts. 8) Developed and sold services to detect fish from water samples and to identify bats from scat samples. 9) In June 2020, NatureMetrics successfully raised £2.5M in Series A funding (https://hype.news/naturemetrics/women-led-uk-science-start-up-raises-25m-to-scale-up-dna-based-nature-monitoring-across-the-world-pakn96yc) 10) Launched the 1000 Rivers consortium to monitor 1000 rivers for pink salmon invasion and fish communities generally (1000rivers.net) 11) NatureMetrics was one of 10 vendors invited to the 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP14) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, and Dr Bruce participated in a panel run by the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative (www.csbi.org.uk) on the future of the mitigation hierarchy and the Equator Principles. The company has been contracted by multiple multinational companies to provide eDNA services for Environmental Impact Assessments.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Integrating new statistical frameworks into eDNA survey and analysis at the landscape scale
Amount £299,550 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/T010045/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 01/2022
 
Description International - Raising the value of biodiversity-friendly cocoa and carbon storage: ensuring sustainable incomes around Gola Rainforest National Park
Amount £64,566 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S014063/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2019 
End 05/2021
 
Description Leading Directions A grant for environmental impact assessment in the One Belt One Road Programme
Amount ¥1,350,000,000 (CNY)
Organisation Chinese Academy of Sciences 
Sector Public
Country China
Start 03/2018 
End 02/2023
 
Description Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship
Amount £49,608 (GBP)
Funding ID R204446 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 05/2019
 
Description UEA Innovation Development Fund (awarded, details still to be decided upon)
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of East Anglia 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description 1000 Rivers project 
Organisation University of Hull
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The 1000 Rivers project aims to establish a monitoring system of river fish communities based on a novel approach, environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis. They will use a citizen science approach to collect water samples from rivers in the British Isles, Continental Europe and Canada. Initially, NM will screen the samples specifically for traces of DNA from the Pink Salmon (Onchorhynchus gorbuscha), which is an invasive species. Following this, the samples will be analysed to reveal whole fish communities.
Collaborator Contribution There are multiple project partners (listed here: https://1000rivers.net/project-partners/) NatureMetrics is carrying out the eDNA analysis. The other partners are providing river water samples. All partners are getting funding from local citizens groups, NGOs and private companies. So far, 140 samples have been analysed, with an estimated (by DY) revenue of £100 per sample (14000 total) There are too many partners to list above, so i have just listed the first one on the webpage.
Impact So far, samples are still being collected and analysed.
Start Year 2019
 
Description AquaBiota partnership 
Organisation AquaBiota Water Research
Country Sweden 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution AquaBiota (AqB) are a Swedish company that provide consultancy for aquatic mapping and monitoring. They are the major providers of eDNA monitoring in Sweden, and exclusively subcontract to NatureMetrics for amplification and sequencing of samples, plus data processing (bioinformatics).
Collaborator Contribution AquaBiota (AqB) are a Swedish company that provide consultancy for aquatic mapping and monitoring. They are the major providers of eDNA monitoring in Sweden, and exclusively subcontract to NatureMetrics for amplification and sequencing of samples, plus data processing (bioinformatics).
Impact AquaBiota (AqB) are a Swedish company that provide consultancy for aquatic mapping and monitoring. They are the major providers of eDNA monitoring in Sweden, and exclusively subcontract to NatureMetrics for amplification and sequencing of samples, plus data processing (bioinformatics).
Start Year 2017
 
Description Bat Conservation Trust 
Organisation Bat Conservation Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution NatureMetrics donates 4% of revenue from the sale of bat-dropping analyses to the Bat Conservation Trust.
Collaborator Contribution The Trust sometimes uses NM's services
Impact none
Start Year 2017
 
Description Citizen Science environmental DNA kits for freshwater biodiversity surveys 
Organisation Freshwater Habitats Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Jointly with the Freshwater Habitats Trust, and the National Trust, NatureMetrics has developed a public-facing eDNA Citizen Science kit that provides exposure to a simplified version of the scientific methods underpinning the core NatureMetrics services metabarcoding services, packaged into a retail kit. This audience is both the general public, and an entry- level offering for NGOs. The sampling kit provides filters, instructions, guidance for successful water sampling, and access to a mobile app. As a consumer item, the kit is packaged and priced accordingly. These are available for sale directly from NatureMetrics. Volunteers can use the kits to take samples reliably, send the filters with the water in to the NatureMetrics UK lab, where they will be subject to basic processing and analysis. The report produced will offer the end user a list of species found.
Collaborator Contribution The FHT and NT will market the citizen-science kits and organise systematic citizen-science surveys of freshwater bodies across the UK. The data will be used for education and also to build large-scale surveys of freshwater biodiversity.
Impact The kits will launch in Spring 2019.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Citizen Science environmental DNA kits for freshwater biodiversity surveys 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Jointly with the Freshwater Habitats Trust, and the National Trust, NatureMetrics has developed a public-facing eDNA Citizen Science kit that provides exposure to a simplified version of the scientific methods underpinning the core NatureMetrics services metabarcoding services, packaged into a retail kit. This audience is both the general public, and an entry- level offering for NGOs. The sampling kit provides filters, instructions, guidance for successful water sampling, and access to a mobile app. As a consumer item, the kit is packaged and priced accordingly. These are available for sale directly from NatureMetrics. Volunteers can use the kits to take samples reliably, send the filters with the water in to the NatureMetrics UK lab, where they will be subject to basic processing and analysis. The report produced will offer the end user a list of species found.
Collaborator Contribution The FHT and NT will market the citizen-science kits and organise systematic citizen-science surveys of freshwater bodies across the UK. The data will be used for education and also to build large-scale surveys of freshwater biodiversity.
Impact The kits will launch in Spring 2019.
Start Year 2018
 
Description DNAqua-Net: EU COST action on freshwater biomonitoring 
Organisation European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
Country Belgium 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Alfried Vogler (co-I on NERC award) was one of two UK secondary proposers for the COST Action proposal: DNAqua-Net: Developing new genetic tools for bioassessment of aquatic ecosystems in Europe. Kat Bruce is leading Working Group 3: Field and Lab protocols (which will produce publications), is on the committee for developing the first CEN standard for eDNA (fish eDNA sampling), and organised 2 workshops in Bosnia and another one due to take place in Innsbruck in March.
Collaborator Contribution Florian Leese is the PI on the COST Action and led the application process.
Impact The COST action has just been awarded (http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/ca/CA15219).
Start Year 2016
 
Description EO-BESS Working Group 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council
Department Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I am a member of a NERC-funded working group to promote collaborations between scientists working on Earth Observation and on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. We had our inaugural meeting in Feb 2016.
Collaborator Contribution Heiko Balzter and David Raffaelli were PIs on the funding for this working group.
Impact The EO-BESS working group proposed a NERC Strategic Programme Area (SPA). The SPA proposal (Future Landscapes) was taken forward by NERC to a formal proposal to NERC's Science Board but ultimately was not funded.
Start Year 2016
 
Description EU Integrated Training Network (ITN) proposals (Plant.ID). 
Organisation University of Oslo
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution NatureMetrics hosts postgraduate students from the Plant.ID consortium, providing them with an introduction to industry and gaining exposure to new protocols.
Collaborator Contribution Plant.ID is a collaborative network within Europe and addresses the challenges of plant identification in 15 different projects. The network supports the career development and training of 15 PhD fellows in an international and cross-disciplinary environment in order to give them a wide range of skills to become excellent scientists. Plant.ID is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded through the H2020 program of the European Union and started on 1 January 2018.
Impact https://www.plantid.uio.no/research/research-output/
Start Year 2018
 
Description NHBS environmental DNA sampling kits 
Organisation NHBS
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution NHBS Ltd is an online retailer of products aimed at ecologists and wildlife professionals. NHBS provide the NatureMetrics environmental DNA sampling kits, and they are trialling a joint sales strategy on a six-month basis.
Collaborator Contribution NHBS source materials, assemble, and ship the NatureMetrics-designed environmental DNA kits.
Impact This is a commercial partnership.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Natural England 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This collaboration established a working partnership between Natural England and NatureMetrics in order to explore the practical application of molecular DNA in the environment to detect species. Natural England has a wide range of needs around species survey and monitoring and needs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how they detect species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. Specifically, the first stage of the collaboration, which started in Sep 2016 and ran for a year, tested the effectiveness of DNA techniques: 1. in standing water to detect specified target species and to identify assemblages of species relevant to nature conservation. 2. in saline lagoons to detect the presence of key species and associated assemblages. 3. to detect the presence of priority species in deadwood substrates and to test the effectiveness of the process to provide data on wider assemblages of species associated with deadwood. 4. as a tool for determining species composition in trap collected invertebrates in terrestrial situations, and 5. to catalogue species of vascular plant DNA in soil cores as an alternative to traditional vegetation sampling. The collaboration was extended in Sep 2017 (to March 2018) to the additional sample types: 1. To determine species composition in trap collected invertebrates in terrestrial situations. 2. To determine species composition of soil invertebrates collected from Long-term Monitoring Network sites. 3. To determine species composition of benthic invertebrates from intertidal and subtidal sediment samples. 4. To detect presence of natterjack toads in sand dunes and upper salt marsh. 5. To detect presence of seahorses in Brighton marina and Beachy Head West MCZ. 6. To detect migratory fish species. 7. To detect freshwater pearl mussel. 8. To detect the presence of key species and associated assemblages in saline lagoons.
Collaborator Contribution Natural England's contributions were: 1. to define the subprojects, 2. to carry out sample collection, and 3. to make a financial contribution to the work (~£76,000 total over the two stages)
Impact NatureMetrics has been processing and analysing the samples and producing reports related to the above, which is allowing Natural England to make informed decisions on the use of DNA to carry out its monitoring responsibilities. The work is ongoing.
Start Year 2016
 
Description The NatureSpace Partnership 
Organisation Environment Bank Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution In England, all construction projects must undertake surveys of nearby water bodies to test for the protected species Triturus cristatus (Great Crested Newt, GCN). These surveys are expensive (£210M estimated total per annum), and there are additional costs incurred due to mitigation measures (transplantation, local habitat creation) if GCN are found (£46M in 2015) and due to construction delays because surveys must be scheduled during the short breeding window. In fact, most surveys find no GCN, because GCN populations are aggregated in the landscape, and as a result, most of the money that is spent on these surveys provides little conservation benefit. The UK is now piloting a scheme whereby large numbers of ponds have been surveyed proactively using an efficient environmental DNA method. The point-sample data have been converted to a continuous species distribution map, and the landscape will be divided into four categories, from low to high GCN density. This will make it possible to grant construction licenses at any time of the year, with a sliding charge depending on the GCN category of the construction site. Business risk is removed, and a large portion of the estimated £10-20M per year in licensing revenues can be deployed to improve habitat in the high-GCN-density zones, with spillover benefits for other wildlife. This GCN offset scheme is possible only because environmental DNA surveys make it efficient to survey the large number of ponds that are needed to map GCN distribution. The NatureSpace Partnership is a consortium of 5 organisations and 8 Local Planning Authorities, led by the Environment Bank, and carried out the above surveys and analyses. NatureMetrics is part of the Nature Space partnership and carried out the eDNA analyses.
Collaborator Contribution The other partners carried out the sampling, provided access to sampling sites, and converted the eDNA detections to a species distribution map. The NatureSpace organisation, led by the Environment Bank, has also spent much of 2017 soliciting investment funds to become fully operational in 2018.
Impact The NatureSpace Partnership has completed its first year plan of mapping Great Crested Newt distributions using eDNA samples and has lined up investor funding to go into operation in 2018, pending authorisation by Natural England.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Translational Museomics 
Organisation NTNU University Museum
Country Norway 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution NatureMetrics are participating as an industrial partner in this consortium grant proposal for a European Joint Doctorate. The grant is led by the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, with NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Norway and the Natural History Museum in London as the other two academic partners.
Collaborator Contribution The partners will train 15 Ph.D. students in modern technologies (e.g. genomics) that can expand the usefulness of museums to basic research and to industry. NatureMetrics is a Pathway to Impact for this programme and will be involved in some of the doctoral training.
Impact None yet. This is still in proposal stage, but reason I include it is to demonstrate that NatureMetrics is invited to help UK academic institutions to attract EU funding. The Museomics proposal received a 90 rating in 2017 and is now being prepared for resubmission in 2018.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Translational Museomics 
Organisation Natural History Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution NatureMetrics are participating as an industrial partner in this consortium grant proposal for a European Joint Doctorate. The grant is led by the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, with NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Norway and the Natural History Museum in London as the other two academic partners.
Collaborator Contribution The partners will train 15 Ph.D. students in modern technologies (e.g. genomics) that can expand the usefulness of museums to basic research and to industry. NatureMetrics is a Pathway to Impact for this programme and will be involved in some of the doctoral training.
Impact None yet. This is still in proposal stage, but reason I include it is to demonstrate that NatureMetrics is invited to help UK academic institutions to attract EU funding. The Museomics proposal received a 90 rating in 2017 and is now being prepared for resubmission in 2018.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Translational Museomics 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Department Natural History Museum of Denmark
Country Denmark 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution NatureMetrics are participating as an industrial partner in this consortium grant proposal for a European Joint Doctorate. The grant is led by the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, with NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Norway and the Natural History Museum in London as the other two academic partners.
Collaborator Contribution The partners will train 15 Ph.D. students in modern technologies (e.g. genomics) that can expand the usefulness of museums to basic research and to industry. NatureMetrics is a Pathway to Impact for this programme and will be involved in some of the doctoral training.
Impact None yet. This is still in proposal stage, but reason I include it is to demonstrate that NatureMetrics is invited to help UK academic institutions to attract EU funding. The Museomics proposal received a 90 rating in 2017 and is now being prepared for resubmission in 2018.
Start Year 2016
 
Title Fieldmate 
Description Smartphone app for water-sample tracking 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Has increased efficiency and reliability of sample tracking for NatureMetrics' clients 
 
Company Name NatureMetrics 
Description "To bridge the gap between biodiversity science and molecular methods, so that DNA-based technology can fulfil its promise in revolutionising our capacity to monitor the natural world." 
Year Established 2014 
Impact Please see Narrative section for a description. Narrowly speaking, NatureMetrics is not a spin-out because NM has not licensed IP from a university. However, it is indeed a commercialisation of NERC-funded research carried out at UK universities. Note that while the first date of business incorporation was in 2014, NatureMetrics truly began operation at the end of the NERC FoF award, when it successfully underwent its first funding round in 1Q 2016 and was able to open a lab, hire employees, and begin marketing and sales. 2020 Update: NatureMetrics successfully raised £2.5 million in Series A funding in June 2019 to fund expansion. 2H 2019 following have been focused on expansion. The company now has over 20 FTE employees.
Website http://www.naturemetrics.co.uk
 
Description CIEEM Autumn conference 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 300 professional environmental engineers attended the CIEEM Autumn industry conference to learn about new technologies for environmental management.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.cieem.net/2016-autumn-conference-
 
Description CIRIA workshop on Biodiversity Offsetting for businesses and government 
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 CIRIA hosted a workshop on Biodiversity Offsetting, in which multiple businesses (incl. NatureMetrics) and local govt representatives presented their methods for carrying out biodiversity offsetting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.ciria.org/CIRIA/Navigation/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=E15241&WebsiteKey=3f18c87a...
 
Description Institute of Water "Dragon's Den" event, where we pitched our technology and won second place. 
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 Kat Bruce pitched NatureMetrics technology to Anglian Water at a public "Dragon's Den"-like event and won second prize. The chair of the selection panel (CEO of Anglian Water) expressed interest in using metabarcoding in Anglian Water's operations, and we are following up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://blogs.anglianwater.co.uk/institute-of-water-dragons-den-event-live-blog/
 
Description Panel run by the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative (www.csbi.org.uk) on the future of the mitigation hierarchy and the Equator Principles. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Dr Bruce participated in a panel run by the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative (www.csbi.org.uk) on the future of the mitigation hierarchy and the Equator Principles, at the 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP14) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participation in EU COST Action project DNAqua net 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An EU-wide network of hundreds of experts and stakeholders from research and industry collaborating to establish best practice for integration of molecular methods into water framework directive monitoring
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://dnaqua.net
 
Description Presentation at Riverfly Partnership annual conference 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 140 freshwater ecologists to learn about latest advances in monitoring freshwater biodiversity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at eDNA working group meeting 2016 
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 150 people working in field of environmental DNA attending to share experiences and latest research in the field
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at the UK DNA Working Group meeting in Salford 
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 The UK DNA Working groups brings together UK government bodies charged with biodiversity monitoring and conservation with academics who are developing methods for surveying biodiversity using genetic markers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://quaysnews.net/index.php/2017/12/05/university-salford-hosted-5th-annual-uk-dna-working-group-...
 
Description Presentation to Natural England customer panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Small focus group of representatives from Natural England, Consultancies, and Developers to discuss protected species licensing and achieving net gain for biodiversity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation to the National Forum for Biological Recording 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 70 people including amateur recorders and local records centres who were there to learn about the latest developments and new technologies for collecting biological species records
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.tombio.uk/?q=nfbr-dna
 
Description Technology Feature article in Nature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NatureMetrics and Douglas Yu were both featured in a Technology Feature article in Nature: Ravindran, S. 2019, June. Turning discarded DNA into ecology gold. Nature 570:543-545.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01987-w
 
Description Vendor presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact NatureMetrics was one of 10 vendors invited to the 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP14) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop for scientists from Natural England 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We held a workshop for scientists from Natural England, to acquaint them with new methods for high-throughput biodiversity assessment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description radio interview on BBC's Costing the Earth programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Kat Bruce was interviewed for BBC Radio's Costing the Earth, which featured NM's leadership of the 1000 Rivers project and its home eDNA kit
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019