When we talk about the tech revolution that is currently sweeping the industrialised world, most people tend to think about search engines, tablet computers and smartphone apps.
But there’s another exciting area, which has perhaps been little understood so far, that is really starting to come into its own: engineering biology. Synthetic biology uses the engineering principles of rational design and our knowledge of life science to improve manufacturing and flexibility in biological systems, and is making a positive impact across a range of sectors such as medicine, agriculture, biofuels and bio-engineering.
At UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, we’re seeing companies in this field emerging from the laboratory and into the commercial world and this is revolutionising existing markets and establishing new ones.
Our investment team behind the Fund, a £24 million early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to kick-starting promising UK tech companies, is certain that engineering biology now provides an exciting investment opportunity.
Indeed, in the past few years, we have seen a burgeoning number of start-ups based on engineering biology. Driven by world-leading research from academic institutions and blue sky industry labs, products and platforms are being developed that offer the real potential in diverse and significant global markets. What’s even more exciting is that engineering biology is enabling entirely new products that were simply impossible using the previous generation of biological tools.
A great example of engineering biology is the production of anti-malarial drugs. Instead of deriving it from a rare plant, biologists have succeeded in reprogramming yeast to produce this lifesaving medicine under laboratory conditions.
Turning this technology into profitable companies is no simple matter, but we are now at a point where many of those technologies are suitable for broad commercial application, making these companies attractive to investors. At UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, we’re providing not just capital, but the expertise and the networks to maximize the chances of success.
UKI2S has supported more than 30 technology start-up companies in sectors such as health, environmental services, international development, and security and defence and our aim is to help translate high-quality research into useful products, tools and services. It is notoriously hard for early-stage companies to do this because of difficulties moving from an establishment phase towards sustainable income generation, and the first round of finance is always the hardest to find. UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund seeks to provide this initial and invest in tomorrow’s enterprises.
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