NBIC Proud to Announce Funding of 25 New Projects Tackling Biofilms
We are delighted to announce the funding of 25 new projects tackling biofilms from our first Proof of Concept Call.
This is the first cohort of projects launched in the UK between universities and industry partners with a primary focus on controlling and exploiting biofilms.
25 new projects have been awarded funding from our first Proof of Concept (POC) Call earlier this year. The projects are wide-ranging in the challenges they aim to tackle and engage a large and diverse group of Partners across various sectors, including health, food hygiene, industrial processing, marine and water. The collaboration between NBIC Research Institutions and industry is key to understanding biofilms and producing innovative solutions to the societal challenges they present, currently impacting ~$5 trillion dollars in global economic activity (approx. double the UK GDP). All projects work across the major strategic NBIC themes: prevent, detect, manage and engineer biofilms, and are a step forward in capitalising on the world class research based in the UK to tackle the sectoral challenges identified with industry partners.
NBIC launched its first POC Call in June 2018 and received a total of 50 applications, worth approx. £4M, over half of which was requested from NBIC. Proposals required a joint collaboration between at least one industry partner (micro, SME or large) and at least one UK university part of the NBIC consortium, with a focus on preventing, detecting, managing or engineering biofilms, and with an expectation to build upon existing research and towards practical exploitation. All projects were sent to a pool of 50 assessors from Academia (27) and Industry (23), and each project was assigned one academic and one industry assessor. Projects were assessed rigorously, across a number of key criteria, including: the quality of the collaboration; the quality of the science; the level of innovation; the potential for future application and the next steps if successful; the credibility of the project plan and the work needed to be done; the demonstrated extent of engagement with industry or external stakeholders and their level of commitment (e.g. financial or in-kind); and the alignment of project goals with the NBIC strategy.
The review panel consisted of 5 academics and 5 industrialists, all with biofilms and project management experience.
NBIC was set up in December 2017 and in the ensuing 8 months, with a small executive team, it is evident that a huge amount of skilfull, constructive work has gone into engaging both industry and academic partners from across the UK. Engagement with such large and diverse group of partners will underpin the national aim of the initiative. This is reflected in the collaborative POC applications received (50) for review from this Call. It was encouraging to find that half of the proposals achieved a score greater than 70% of the maximum attainable, reflecting the excellent quality of the applications received. I would like to thank the panellists for agreeing to give their time and expertise that proved crucial in helping NBIC ensure that public funds are assigned appropriately.
Delivering translational research is at the heart of our mission to harness the UK’s Academic and Industrial strengths in Biofilm related Science and Technology. We were delighted with the breadth and quality of the project proposals received in the Call and are pleased to have been able to support over 50% of those received. I am personally grateful to the UK academic and industrial community, not only for participating in the Call, but also engaging in the review process and demonstrating what a supportive network the UK biofilm community truly are.
The 25 projects awarded all range from 3 to 12 months in duration, lasting on average 6 months. NBIC’s contribution is on average between £25-50k in total for each project. In total, NBIC is investing approximately £1.1m in these projects. Projects were also encouraged to propose additional sources of funding and in-kind support, in order to enhance the quality of the bid and the outcomes anticipated. NBIC will help to support and facilitate the relationship between research institutions and industry partners, and project leads are expected to report to NBIC on a regular basis regarding project progress.
Research and Innovation are central to the UK government’s long-term Industrial Strategy to raise productivity and earning power, and Innovation Knowledge Centres (IKC) are a key vehicle in achieving this. NBIC is an IKC funded by the BBSRC, Innovate UK and the Hartree Centre, specifically focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities biofilms present and finding innovative solutions to overcome or utilise them by joining world class researchers and industry together.