Major boost for UK environmental biotech research



A Heriot-Watt academic has received a funding boost which will allow the setting up of a national network to support the biotechnologies sector.

The funding, awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of an £11 million pot distributed to six different networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB).

Dr Tony Gutierrez, Associate Professor at the university is part of the Environmental Biotechnology Network (EBNet) - one of the six networks awarded. 

The academic will work with Professor Fred Coulon from Cranfield University, looking at the theme of Pollutants and Media.

The aim is to address priority pollutants, including microplastics that enter the environment in water, on land and in the biosphere.

It will also support scientists who are designing next-generation environmental protection technologies based on sustainable bioprocesses.

Dr Gutierrez said: “We're delighted to receive this funding which will encourage a melting pot of experts to grow in this very specific sector.

“This will open new opportunities and create a platform to rethink the way we process waste and remediate contaminated sites, and allow the movement of a low carbon economy in the coming decades.

“It's a great project to be involved in and it's fantastic to be the first UK group of its kind and with international involvement.”

BBSRC's Executive Chair, Professor Melanie Welham, said:  “As part of UK Research and Innovation, BBSRC continues to invest in industrial biotechnology research that underpins these networks, and will pave the way for novel and game-changing industrial processes and products.”

Heriot-Watt is a partner of EBNet together with Southhampton University, Cranfield University, Newcastle University and the University of Surrey.