Synthetic biology has the potential to increase prosperity and address some of the major challenges facing our planet.
A strategic roadmap for synthetic biology was published in July 2012 with the key purpose of developing ‘a roadmap that defines the likely timeframe and actions required to establish a world leading Synthetic Biology industry within the UK.’
The roadmap, produced by an independent panel of experts for the government’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills, sets out a shared vision for realising the potential of synthetic biology in the UK.
Note: A refresh of the 2012 Roadmap, the UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016 — Biodesign for the Bioeconomy, was published on 24th February 2016.
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Five core themes for the roadmap emerged from this work. They were:
- Foundational science and engineering: the need for sufficient capabilities for the UK to maintain a leading edge
- Continuing responsible research and innovation: including the need for awareness, training and adherence to regulatory frameworks
- Developing technology for commercial use
- Applications and markets: identifying growth markets and developing applications
- International cooperation
To achieve this, the roadmap outlines five key recommendations:
- Invest in a network of multidisciplinary centres to establish an outstanding UK synthetic biology resource.
- Build a skilled, energised and well-funded UK-wide synthetic biology community [for example, via the Synthetic Biology Special Interest Group].
- Invest to accelerate technology responsibly to market.
- Assume a leading international role.
- Establish a leadership council
Some of the recommendations made by the Roadmap are already in place, including the Synthetic Biology Special Interest Group (SynBio SIG); funding opportunities, for instance the SPARK Awards for Synthetic Biology and the Technology Strategy Board’s (now known as Innovate UK) £6.5M Feasibility Studies Competition which launched in October 2012; and increased consideration of responsible innovation factors in the funding process. The co-founders are working to ensure that the projects funded perform their activities within the principles of responsible innovation.
You can download the Strategic Roadmap for Synthetic Biology in the UK (2012) here.