September 1, 2009

Public Sector and Industry Combine In Funding Boost For Diet and Health And Green Tech Research

A total of £7M funding has been announced today by two public-private collaborations led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) will fund research into the relationship between what we eat and how healthy we are. The Integrated Biorefining Research and Technology Club (IBTI Club) will fund research into technology to help replace fossil fuel derived chemicals and consumer products with green alternatives. The clubs combine public funding from BBSRC and three other Research Councils, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), with contributions from more than 20 companies.

The partnership between the Research Councils and industry means that the clubs can ensure world-class science is brought to bear on issues and obstacles to the development of nutritionally enhanced foods and bioactive ingredients, or the development of technology to sustainably produce chemicals and consumer products from non-food crops. Understanding the underpinning research needs in these two important industrial sectors ensures that public funds are being used to maximum effect.

The Integrated Biorefining Research and Technology Club (IBTI Club) will award around £3M, a mixture of BBSRC, EPSRC and company contributions to bring together the biology, chemistry and engineering communities with the potential to solve some of the issues the sector currently faces, including challenges specific to the second generation of biorefining - the technology that could lead to the production of chemicals and materials from agricultural and food waste and non-food crops instead of from fossil fuels. This is the IBTI Club's second call for research proposals and it has already invested £1.8M in research.

The Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) has opened its third call for proposals, aiming to award £4M of funding for research looking at how the UK food industry can develop healthier diets and address serious public health issues such as obesity, as well as looking at the benefits of bioactive ingredients in food. The funding for this final call is from BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC and industrial partners.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director for Innovation and Skills, said: "How to find sustainable, economically viable biorefining technologies for the production of chemicals, materials and polymers to replace fossil fuels and how best to tackle chronic health problems associated with diet are two of the major questions of the day. Projects funded by these two calls will put UK science at the fore of answering such questions and providing possible solutions.

Working closely with companies is vital in ensuring networking and community building between academia and industry."

DRINC and IBTI Club are two of BBSRC's three research and technology clubs set up to support high quality, innovative research in areas identified as strategically important by BBSRC and Industry.


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