BBIA member the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) has been awarded a total of 27 four-year studentships to be allocated over the next three academic years – 17 to focus on industrial biotechnology (IB) and bioenergy and a further 10 to develop world-class underpinning bioscience.

Funding for the studentships comes from the Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP), which is designed to accelerate skills in bioscience priority areas, through industry-led collaborative doctoral training.

Bioscience and IB comprise a vast array of processes – from the extraction of plants to produce biofuels, algae farming for use in ‘greener’ cosmetics, identifying ‘switches’ within tissues for genetic therapies or manufacturing sustainable materials.

Upskilling in these specific sectors will therefore prepare students for entry into a wide range of exciting careers in the bio-economy. The use of renewable biological resources is a focus for a range of companies, from rural SMEs to MNCs such as GSK and IBioIC is committed to providing 1,500 new jobs across these by 2020.

The total BBSRC investment in the IBioIC CTP is more than £2.6M, with each CTP studentship comprising almost £100,000 including course fees, stipend and a £5K (per annum) Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). This allocation represents a significant proportion of the total number of studentships and over a third of the total IB and bioenergy allocation on offer from the BBSRC, highlighting the importance of IB and the recognition of IBioIC’s role in accelerating the bioeconomy.

In common with the current IBioIC PhD programme, the CTP studentships will fund collaborative PhD projects in which businesses take the lead in arranging projects with an academic partner. The industry partner will provide a 3-18 month research placement and around 20% (approximately £20K) of the funding.

Ian Fotheringham, Managing Director of Ingenza says, “SME’s like Ingenza rely on well-trained staff to enable success with partners around the world. The IBioIC’s skills programme, including its industrially-led PhD, is of critical importance – helping build a pool of talented bio-scientists for UK companies of all sizes. The programme is unique in offering students collaborative projects at the interface between academic and industrial R&D as well as training in entrepreneurship and management skills. Ingenza is delighted that the BBSRC have recognised the importance of the IBioIC’s PhD programme through a Collaborative Training Partnership award and we congratulate the team on this success.”

IBioIC itself is committed to underwriting three to five additional studentships per annum over the three intake years, to also include provision of training opportunities such as the IBioIC four-day ‘More Business Acumen’ course, online training via SysMIC, Bioinformatics training and attendance at the IBioIC’s Annual Conference. This follows IBioIC’s commitment to all its students embarking on a PhD – to provide the opportunity to participate in cohort training programmes developed in coordination with industry in order to equip students with technical knowledge as well as transferrable skills. The CTP model adds an emphasis on developing postgraduate research and professional skills, student cohort-building and grant-holder accountability.

Ian Archer, Technical Director of the IBioIC says, “The BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) competition was highly competitive and we’re delighted our commitment to accelerating the bioeconomy has been recognised via these awards. We’re proud to be co-investing in training the next generation of skilled people for the research base and wider bioeconomy.”

IBioIC invites applications from industry-led PhD projects in collaboration with a Scottish University or a University of the N8 Research Partnership – Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. Applications from SMEs are particularly encouraged and all applications should be aligned to the following major themes:

  • IB and Bioenergy (including Sustainable Feedstocks, Integrated Bioprocessing and Downstream Processing)
  • World Class Underpinning Bioscience (Synthetic Biology, Bio-catalysis and Biotransformation)

In addition to the IBioIC, the scientific remit of all projects will be approved by BBSRC. For more information, please contact IBioIC Skills Programme Manager, Susanne Boyle via or see the IBioIC website for details on how to apply.