Earlier this month, the great and the good of the synthetic biology community gathered at Imperial College for this year’s SynBioBeta London, a key two-day conference on synthetic biology and its applications. Below, we summarise some of the highlights and key announcements from the event.
Now in its fourth year, the Annual SynBioBeta London Conference, hosted by Innovation and Knowledge Centre SynbiCITE, was as vibrant as ever with 600 attendees from the UK and overseas, spanning industry, academia and the investment community.
The synthetic biology industry has flourished over the last few years. Between 2009 and 2015, European synthetic biology companies raised over $900 million in private investment, of which just over $200 million was raised in 2015 alone. Further information on Europe’s thriving synbio start up scene is available from SynbiCITE’s handy ‘5 minute guide’ infographic.
This thriving industry was witnessed in the quality and quantity of developments being showcased at the conference. Plenty of BIA members were in attendance at the event and key announcements included the official opening of SynbiCITE’s £2m ‘Foundry’ automation lab. Funded by RCUK, the Foundry is at the core of SynbiCITE’s facilities hub and is specifically designed to support the commercialisation of synthetic biology. The Foundry has been created and built to operate as a ‘cloud lab’ to support synthetic biologists across the UK – watch it in action in this report from Sky News.
In another key announcement, BIA member Synthace announced a strategic partnership that will team their Antha language and operating system for biology with Microsoft’s cloud analytics and machine learning – a significant development for the London based company and the UK synbio sector.
Elsewhere at the conference, Thursday’s panel session on responsible innovation included Professor Paul Freemont, SynbiCITE, and Beatriz San Martin, Fieldfisher, who is a member of BIA’s Intellectual Property and Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Advisory Committees.
Investment is crucial to the success of a biotech company and was a key topic for discussion over the conference, including a breakfast in the House of Lords on Friday to top off the week. The synbio community and investors gathered to hear from host Lord Willetts, former Science Minister and synthetic biology champion.
Following the launch of the updated Synthetic Biology Roadmap in February, now evolved into “Biodesign for the Bioeconomy: The UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan”, Lionel Clarke from the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council outlined the next phase of strategic direction for this growing technology area in the UK. You can download the new UK strategic plan here and watch Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman MP launch the document here.
You can look back over tweets from the conference on #SBBUK16.