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BBSRC heralds 'Age of Bioscience' with launch of new strategic plan

28 January 2010

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has today outlined the strategic framework that will shape its direction and funding decisions for the next 5 years. Many of the challenges facing society have their potential solutions in biological science, making the 21st Century the ‘Age of Bioscience’. In its Strategic Plan for 2010-2015, published today, BBSRC details how it will support UK bioscience to meet these challenges and the opportunities for bioscience to benefit society and the UK economy.

The new Strategic Plan can be downloaded from the BBSRC website at: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/strategy

In a webcast, streamed on the BBSRC website this morning, Prof Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, outlined the main features of the plan.

  • A commitment to fund excellent UK bioscience and skills across the BBSRC remit
  • Three strategic research priorities – food security, bioenergy and industrial biotechnology, and basic bioscience underpinning health
  • Three underpinning themes – knowledge exchange, innovation and skills, exploiting new ways of working and partnerships

Prof Kell said: "The new BBSRC strategic plan outlines our vision to lead 21st century bioscience. This is a field where the UK is truly world-leading. Through excellent science BBSRC is committed to promoting innovation to realise benefits from the bioscience research base for people in the UK and beyond.

"The BBSRC strategic plan details the priorities and themes that are essential to keep the UK at the cutting edge of international bioscience – and our plans for BBSRC to use its unique and central position to achieve our vision. We will continue to fund excellent research across our remit to fund the best ideas from the best people. Building on our world-leading bioscience research base, we will give particular focus to the three strategic research priorities as delivering food security, sustainable bio-based alternatives to fossil fuels and the basic bioscience to deliver health are areas where our funded scientists can contribute to meeting major challenges society must overcome."

The three underpinning themes are broad cross-cutting activities that are vital to ensure that the full potential of 21st century bioscience is reached and that the wider public see the maximum social and economic benefit.

Knowledge exchange, innovation and skills will mean maximising the impact of the research and skills funded by BBSRC. Exploiting new ways of working will entail harnessing the power of new tools and technologies, including large datasets and next generation internet, to tackle increasingly complex questions. In partnerships, BBSRC recognises that achieving its ambitions for bioscience in the modern world will require close work with UK and international partners.

Prof Kell said: "The underpinning themes are a vital part of the strategic plan. We understand that embedding them will involve commitment and, in some cases, cultural change, not just amongst our scientists but within BBSRC as well. However, we see these as absolutely key to delivering the future of bioscience and maximum benefit for society."

Prof Kell’s video announcement of the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan is available to watch with a new BBSRC film, ‘The Age of Bioscience’, at www.bbsrc.ac.uk/strategy

Strategic Plan available for download at: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/strategy

Hardcopies of Strategic Plan document available - please contact External Relations Unit (see contact below).

ENDS

Notes to editors

In full, the 3 strategic research priorities are:

  • Food security – how can we feed 9Bn people sustainably by the middle of this century? BBSRC-funded bioscience will help to provide a sustainable supply of affordable, nutritious and safe food for a growing global population
  • Bioenergy and industrial biotechnology – transforming the UK into a low-carbon economy requires new ways to produce energy, and transport fuels and chemicals, which are currently derived from dwindling oil reserves. Our research offers ways to produce ‘green’ biofuels and industrial raw materials from renewable biological sources
  • Basic bioscience underpinning health – in many developed countries lifespan is increasing faster than healthspan. The ageing society is a major challenge for the 21st century, where BBSRC-funded science will help provide better health and improved quality of life for more years

In full the 3 underpinning themes are:

  • Knowledge exchange, innovation and skills – we are committed to maximising the impact of the research and skills of the people we fund, and encouraging the translation of BBSRC science into practical applications that benefit the UK economy and society
  • Exploiting new ways of working – advances in tools and technologies change the way in which research is undertaken, and allows us to tackle new and increasingly complex scientific questions.  Bioscience must harness the power of next generation internet technologies and other computational approaches
  • Partnerships – we cannot achieve our ambitious vision for UK bioscience on our own. BBSRC will work with UK and international partners to fund research and realise the benefits to the UK economy and society, and will continue to engage the public in the direction of bioscience

All of the priorities and themes are firmly grounded in the funding of excellent bioscience research and training.

The BBSRC Strategic Plan, 2010-2015, has been published following wide public consultation with a range of stakeholders.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

Contact

External Relations Unit

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299