This month we’re taking a look at talent on the BIA blog. 

Rainbow Seed Fund and SynbiCITE recently announced a new £200,000 competition, Bio-start, designed to bolster UK companies aiming to solve significant global problems through synthetic biology. The not-for-profit competition offers the winner a combination of £100k cash plus laboratory space, a ten-week accelerator programme with mentorship, consumables and professional services valued at ~£100k. Find out more below.

Midven’s Rainbow Seed Fund, along with SynbiCITE, a pioneering Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), have announced the launch of Bio-start. This annual competition, worth £200,000 to the successful UK innovator, will help early-stage synthetic biology innovators to move ground-breaking ideas closer to the market.

The science of synthetic biology

Synthetic biology lies at the cross point of science, engineering and computing. It can be described as the design and engineering of biologically based components, novel devices and systems as well as the redesign of existing, natural biological systems, and its gives scientists the opportunity to design bespoke organisms to carry out new roles. Its potential has been recognised beyond the lab bench – in 2013, the UK government described synthetic biology as one of the eight great technologies that can support UK science strengths and business capabilities.

Applications for synthetic biology include the development of sustainable energy and new drugs, could help with waste remediation and event begin to alleviate food and water shortages.

The Bio-start boost

The not-for-profit contest Bio-start competition has been created by SynbiCITE and Rainbow Seed Fund to support UK companies that are working to solve significant global problems through synthetic biology. Its aim is to support innovative early-stage companies and people with great ideas in healthcare, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector that makes use of synthetic biology.

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director at Rainbow Seed Fund, said: “We’re confident about the UK’s strength in synthetic biology and believe there is potential to build world-class companies in the UK. Bio-start is an important element in our strategy of helping develop this promising sector. It will also be an opportunity for corporate sponsors to engage with promising young companies in the synthetic biology industry.”

The prize is worth £200,000 and is comprised of:

  • £100,000 in funding
  • Laboratory space
  • A ten-week accelerator programme with mentorship
  • Consumables and professional services valued at ~£100,000

Registrations must be completed by midnight on 14 October 2016 using the application form on the Bio-start website and completed entries must be submitted by midnight on 31 December 2016. Application areas can be in healthcare, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector that can make use of synthetic biology.

Co-founder Stephen Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, said: “This is a first in the UK for synthetic biology and our aim is to help as many companies and entrepreneurs as we can. Once applications have been assessed up to 25 companies will go through our ten-week boot-camp and mentoring programme. Up to 10 of these companies will go through to the final awards event where they’ll have a chance to pitch their ideas to an expert panel in front of an audience of investors and industry leaders.”

The BIA’s People Advisory Committee hosted a session at the 2015 UK Bioscience Forum where the audience made it clear that there needs to be a stronger industry focus on mentoring the next generation of management talent and that the BIA should be playing a leading role. 

This is why we have bought together a directory of schemes to showcase the breadth of options open to companies and individuals in the sector today and we will be launching this in the Autumn. This publication kicks off the BIA’s wider work on the issue of talent and our People Advisory Committee will be playing a central role in driving this forward.