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3rd International IET/SynbiCITE Engineering Biology Conference 2017

Synthetic biology driving industrial translation in the bioeconomy

12 – 13 December 2017 | IET London: Savoy Place

IET London: Savoy Place (logo) Continuous Professional Development CPD (logo)

Benefits of engineering biology - Examples of engineering in biology

Here are some examples of work in the field:


The fine chemicals, agriculture, nutrition and personal care industries all work with engineering biology (engineered biology) to create novel materials. Many of which provide routes to solvent-free reactions that are faster, more efficient and environmentally friendly.

  • Oxford Biotrans has developed a sustainable compound, nootkatone, which gives grapefruit its distinctive flavour. Nootkatone is expensive, costing between £1,000 and £5,000/kg. Oxford Biotrans are commercialising their novel engbio process to produce nootkatone from valencene (the major component of orange oil) using an enzyme-catalysed process, dramatically decreasing the cost of nootkatone production. Grapefruit never tasted better
  • Evolva produce a large range of materials for use in flavours and fragrances, personal care, agriculture and nutrition, using engineering biology, such as: Resveratrol, Stevia, Saffron, Vanillin, Valencene and Sandalwood
  • Green Biologics Ltd is a renewable chemicals company focused on developing and delivering new renewable alternatives for everyday products using engineering biology

The possibilities for using engineering biology to engineer more effective products and new diagnostics, drugs and therapeutics are developing rapidly; examples are hitting the headlines for potential solutions to global healthcare challenges such as malaria and zika, cancer, antibacterial resistance, and water contamination.

  • Oxitec is a pioneer in controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops, sustainably and cost effectively protecting human health and increasing food production across the globe. Oxitec has engineered a ‘sterile’, self-limiting strain of mosquito, repeated release of which reduces the wild population to below the level needed to transmit diseases such as Zika and Dengue. In 2015, Oxitec was sold to Intrexon, a US-based biotechnology company, for £102 million. Intrexon will further use Oxitec’s technology to combat diseases and agricultural pests worldwide
  • Autolus is a private, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focused on the development and commercialisation of engineered immunotherapy products, with extreme efficacy in the treatment of life-threatening cancers
  • In order to identify suitable ingredients for new drugs, the pharmaceutical industry requires the ability to screen hundreds of thousands of molecules per day. Companies such as Sphere Fluidics have developed technology to tackle these tasks
Defence industry

Surprising to many, engineering biology has a role to play in defence and security.

  • Examples include chemical detecting sensor technologies used in the protection of personnel or equipment, biosensors detecting local environmental changes, new materials for protective coatings and corrosion resistance, and materials exhibiting unique properties or added functionality for decontamination approaches
  • Camouflage solutions are also being investigated by the UK’s Defence Science and Technologies Laboratories, DSTL
InfoComms, robotics and automation

Cloud labs are enabling large online experiments via a central lab from anywhere in the world.

Experiments are designed over the web using specialist software; experiments are conducted using specified materials in an automated lab exactly as designed; the data is transferred to a database in the cloud which can be accessed and manipulated from anywhere, and analysed using extensive data suites.

These experiments can produce enormous data sets that need verification, modelling and simulation before translation into manufacturing-at-scale processes.

  • Companies such as Emerald Cloud Lab offer these services from the US and in the UK at SynbiCITE
  • Huge data sets used to describe biological materials and for codifying biological unit operations have led to the development of multifactorial experiments – by companies such as Synthace and CyBio - to rapidly build reproducible, robust and high productivity bioprocesses that can be run on automated robotic platforms to give reproducibility through design of experiment approaches

Engineering biology is being used to create biologically-based lightweight, very strong and environmentally-friendly manufactured materials, which have direct application in the aircraft and automotive industries.

  • Novel bioplastics are being produced from waste biomass that are lighter and do not use petrochemicals and solvents in their manufacture. Novel fabrics are being created by companies such as Bolt Threads, who are using engineering biology to create man-made silk threads
  • Barnacles are a problem for shipping - they increase hull friction in the water and are very costly to remove. Engineering biology is being investigated as a route to producing environmentally-friendly coatings for ships’ hulls to prevent barnacles from sticking, and to reduce salt water corrosion. Work is ongoing for the development of these environmentally friendly anti-fouling biomaterials
Built environment and future cities

New water filtration and waste management process are being developed, using engineering biology approaches, to enable the re-use of grey water, manufacturing waste and domestic waste, converting these products to create energy and new materials.

  • Arborea is one such company working in this space, developing novel ‘artificial leaf’ technologies that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and high energy potential biomass
  • NGB are another, producing specialist anaerobic digesters using engineering biology to create biogas from waste

Co-headline sponsor

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Early Bird Member - £325

Early Bird Non-member - £395

Standard Member - £375

Standard Non-member - £475

Faculty / Post Doc - £300

Student - £150