28.07.2023 | Published by bit.bio

bit.bio joins Downing Street synbio industry round table and showcase

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Last week, bit.bio had the opportunity to speak at 10 Downing Street for a showcase focused on engineering biology - what we often refer to as synthetic biology or synbio for short - alongside the Secretary of State and officials of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. The occasion marked the launch of a call for evidence by Government, which seeks views to inform policy in support of the UK engineering biology ecosystem. 

This consultative process is a huge opportunity for leading voices in our sector to influence the research, commercial and operational environment for our industry. It builds on the identification of engineering biology, in the Science and Technology Framework, as one of the “five critical technologies” for UK prospects and ambitions to become a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030.

In the call for evidence, the Government recognises that our field is driving extraordinary progress and change and will be a key tool to enabling a society that is “healthier, wealthier and more environmentally sustainable”. 

We are now putting together our response, and I encourage all colleagues and interested parties to also contribute, so that Government can benefit from our collective expertise and consider our perspectives when forming its strategy. 

In July we also welcomed the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech and its clear focus on better connecting UK finance into innovative, high-growth UK companies. In this, the Chancellor announced the Mansion House Compact, committing 5 per cent of participating DC pension scheme investments to private equity and early-stage businesses. 

The importance of successfully channelling early-stage investment and the resultant economic dividend cannot be underestimated. In 2020, McKinsey looked at more than 400 use cases and estimated bio-based innovation could be as much as $4 trillion in the next 10 – 20 years. As such, the Mansion House Compact is a vital step towards securing UK long-term interest, and recognition as the permanent home for some of the most exciting engineering biology companies. 

Earlier this year, I highlighted the work taking place in Washington DC, following President Biden’s Executive Order instructing federal bodies to assess the potential for biotech and biomanufacturing, and the subsequent publication of a detailed, ambitious report “Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing”. It is this type of goal-orientated, joined-up and collaborative approach across industry and government which sets the standard for others.

Another recent example of the proactive approach taken in the United States was in the announcement that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a 4-year contract, worth up to $18 million, to Ginkgo Bioworks to reconceive the process on how to manufacture complex therapeutic proteins. Commitments such as these, underpinned by the science and a clear set of strategic policy goals, shows the way forward for public-private endeavours to quickly realise applications, for the benefit of the domestic bioeconomy. It points the way forward for policymakers here in the UK and elsewhere on the approach to be taken. 

Recognition of engineering biology as critical technology for the UK, the current call for evidence, the Chancellor’s announcement of the Mansion House Compact all show positive steps being taken. Our field has a responsibility to help maintain this momentum and take the opportunity to inform on priorities. Here I am grateful for the work and leadership of the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences, led by Daniel Zeichner MP, who I had the pleasure of showing round the bit.bio labs recently. Properly enabled, our field will deliver transformative improvements to industries and society as a whole. The call for evidence is the opportunity, lets take it.


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