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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 synthetic biology - Examples of engineering in biology


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

  • Oxford Biotrans has developed a sustainable grapefruit flavour: the compound which gives grapefruit its distinct flavour, nootkatone, is a very expensive ingredient costing between £1,000 and £5,000/kg. They are commercialising its novel process to produce nootkatone from valencene (the major component of orange oil) using an enzyme-catalysed process
  • Evolva produce a large range of materials for use in flavours and fragrances, personal care, agriculture and nutrition 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 synthetic biology


The possibilities for using synthetic 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 have developed an innovative solution for controlling harmful insect populations through the production of ‘sterile’, self-limiting insects whose offspring do not survive. 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 biopharmaceutical company, focused on the development and commercialisation of engineered immunotherapy products with extreme efficacy in the treatment of life-threatening cancers
  • Scientists from the University of Birmingham have spun-out a company - Linear Diagnostics – that is developing a device which can detect infection of food samples by synthetic biology-engineered microbes to reduce the risk of food poisoning
  • The pharmaceuticals industry needs to be able to screen hundreds of thousands of molecules per day for suitability as ingredients in new drugs; companies such as Sphere Fluidics have developed such technology  to tackle this

Defence industry

Synthetic biology contributes to defence and security.

Examples include protection of personnel or equipment sensor technologies to detect chemicals, biosensors to detect local changes in the environment, new materials for protective coatings and corrosion resistance and materials exhibiting unique properties or added functionality decontamination approaches.

Camouflage solutions are all being investigated by the UK’s Defence Science and Technologies Laboratories, DSTL.

InfoComms, robotics and automation

Cloud labs are enabling massive online experiments in 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 managed into a database on the cloud which can be accessed and manipulated from anywhere and analysed using extensive data suites.

The outputs from these can be 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 will have direct application in the aircraft and automotive industries.

  • Novel bioplastics that are made from waste biomass, are lighter and do not use petrochemicals and solvents in their manufacture, natural polymers (such as leather). Fabrics are being created such as that from Bolt Threads 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, Synthetic 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

  • In Newcastle University. BacillaFilla is being investigated whereby cracks in concrete self-repair using synthetic biology engineered natural bacteria that are mixed in the concrete prior to use. On cracking, water permeates the structure; the bacteria induce biomineralisation (which is also carbon negative and highly energy efficient) that fills the crack. This also has potential to make a ‘bio-grout’ to inject into cracks in traditional cement based concrete whereby the grout biomineralises, grows and fills the crack
  • New water filtration and waste management process are being developed to enable the re-use of grey water, manufacturing waste and domestic waste by converting this using engineering biology approaches to create energy and new materials such as that by Arborea who develop novel ‘artificial leaf’ technologies to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and high energy potential biomass and NGB who produce specialist anaerobic digesters using engineering biology to create biogas from waste

Premium exhibitor


Early Bird Member - £325

Early Bird Non-member - £395

Standard Member - £375

Standard Non-member - £475

Faculty / Post Doc - £300

Student - £150