Role for UWE Bristol in new National Biofilms Innovation Centre

Issue date: 01 January 2018

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) will play a key role in a new National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) launched by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Centre (BBSRC).

The NBIC brings together the UK's world-class expertise in biofilms research to help address some of the most urgent global challenges such as medicine, process industries, food and water, and the environment.

Supported by a commitment of £26 million over the next five years, including £12.5 million funding from the BBSRC and Innovate UK, with additional support from universities and industry, NBIC will bring the best of UK biofilm research together with UK companies from across the industrial sectors to accelerate the adoption of new technologies into live products and services.

NBIC is a multi-site Innovation and Knowledge Centre, led by the University of Southampton together with a core partnership of the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham. A further 11 universities including UWE Bristol, three research centres – Diamond Synchrotron, the Hartree Centre and the Quadram Institute – and three major global academic partners – The Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), the Montana State University (USA) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) are involved. NBIC will also collaborate with a network of over 50 companies from different sectors ranging from SMEs to large companies to exploit the UK's global leadership in biofilms. NBIC's inclusive model means that other universities and companies conducting biofilm research can participate and benefit from partnership with the NBIC consortium.

Jeremy Webb, Principal Investigator and Co-Director for NBIC, said: “This new National Biofilms Innovation Centre is poised to create a fusion of world-class interdisciplinary research and industry partnerships to deliver breakthrough science and technologies to control and exploit biofilms.

“The UK is home to some of the most advanced research and commercial opportunities for the exploitation of biofilms so combining our talents gives us the best opportunity to establish a national, and international, agenda to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges and work seamlessly across academia and industry to stimulate growth in this vital area.”

UWE Bristol has leading expertise in biofilm research in the fields of water treatment, food quality, wound infection and oral health - where biofilms can lead to serious health problems - through to the investigation of novel techniques for biofilm management on medical devices such as endoscopes.

Researchers at the university's Centre for Research in Biosciences develop and scale up models that can mimic biofilms present in the oral cavity and infected open wounds, and are also found on fresh food produce; and biofilms needed for complex water treatment processes. The models aid understanding of how biofilms respond and behave to disruption (chemical and biological) and therapeutics (novel antimicrobial treatments).

Professor Darren Reynolds, of the Centre for Research in Biosciences at UWE Bristol, said: “We are excited to be part of this new Centre, which will bring together the UK's best scientists, problem solvers and entrepreneurs in biofilm research to help drive and translate innovation through collaborative partnerships with industry partners and academics.

“At UWE Bristol we will work through NBIC to help drive and translate biofilm research into revolutionary and innovative solutions for managing and exploiting biofilms in the health, food and environment sectors.”

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