The call is the first from the Synthetic Biology ERA-NET (ERASynBio) - a project designed to enhance European Synthetic Biology research through joint policy making, community building and training, and transnational funding.
BBSRC, along with 12 other ERASynBio funding agencies from Europe and the USA will support around €15M of research into this emerging field. The call represents a unique opportunity to build global Synthetic Biology capacity through innovative transnational projects.
The funding will allow European and US researchers to come together to work on high impact, high reward projects and address Synthetic Biology challenges which cannot be tackled at a national level.
Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "Synthetic biology has the potential to address some of the major challenges of the 21st Century as well as offering innovations to benefit the economy. By applying engineering principles to biological research we have the potential to shape the future of industrial compounds, biofuels and new medicines, and to provide exciting insights into fundamental biological mechanisms."
BBSRC's major involvement in this first funding call from ERASynBio highlights commitment and progress towards the UK building its leading international role in Synthetic Biology, as recommended in "A Synthetic Biology Roadmap for the UK" published in 2012.
Lionel Clarke of Shell Projects and Technology, who chaired the coordinating group for the roadmap, said: "International collaboration is essential to enhance research opportunities and make meaningful progress in this area. BBSRC's major involvement in this European project highlights the UK as a centre of international excellence taking a leading role in synthetic biology research.
ERASynBio describes Synthetic Biology as the engineering of biology: the deliberate (re)design and construction of novel biological and biologically based systems to perform new functions for useful purposes, that draws on principles elucidated from biology and engineering.
In the near future, Synthetic Biology could open doors to a more efficient processing and non-polluting manufacturing of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and new routes for the generation of biofuels. However the long term potential of this emerging field can only be realised through strategic international cooperation.
ERASynBio welcomes multidisciplinary research proposals from a range of scientific areas including: metabolic engineering; regulatory circuits; orthogonal biosystems; bionanoscience; minimal genomes; protocells.
These applications have the potential to contribute to sectors including: industrial biotechnology, bioenergy, biomedicine, biosensors, bioremediation, agriculture and new tools for scientific research.
The new funding will provide an evolving line of European transnational projects and facilitate the identification of barriers in Synthetic Biology.