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NML involved in recently launched National Biofilms Innovation Centre

14 Dec 2017
The UK’s world-class expertise in the research of biofilms was recognised through the recent launch of the new National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC).

Supported by a commitment of £26 million over the next 5 years, including £12.5M funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Centre (BBSRC) and Innovate UK, with additional support from universities, industry and the UK’s National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC, NBIC will bring the best of UK biofilm research together with UK companies from across the industrial sectors to accelerate the adoption of new technologies into live products and services as part of a global industry worth $5 trillion.

Research into the microbiomes that make up biofilms is now a feature of many scientific disciplines with applications ranging from healthcare to the environment with a major focus on antimicrobial resistance in which they play an important role.  The NML has a strong track record in developing measurement science in this area and is currently leading a European-funded project to underpin diagnostic analysis and support standardisation of antimicrobial resistance testing and microbiome research through the development of reference methods and materials.

“As the UK’s National Measurement Laboratory (NML) we will provide measurement support for this new interdisciplinary consortium,” said Julian Braybrook, Director of Measurement Science. “Our contribution will focus on the measurements required to determine the mechanisms of biofilm formation in hospital-acquired infections that can lead to antimicrobial resistance. Combining talents across the UK in this area gives us the best opportunity to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges and work seamlessly across academia and industry to stimulate growth in this vital area.”

Biofilms are central to some of the most urgent global challenges across diverse fields of application, from medicine to industry to the environment and exert considerable economic and social impact:  
  • They are a leading cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), forecast to cost $100T in world GDP and 10M deaths by 2050;
  • They are the major cause of chronic infections, costing the NHS £2bn per annum; 
  • Contamination, energy losses and damage by biofilms impact on the £70B UK foods industry, the $2.8T consumer products sector, and $117B global coatings industry.
  • Biofilm management is essential to deliver clean and globally sustainable drinking water and food security.
NBIC is a multi-site Innovation and Knowledge Centre, led by the University of Southampton together with a core partnership of the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham. Alongside a further 11 universities, three research centres – Diamond Synchotron, the Hartree Centre and the Quadram Institute – and three major global academic partners – The Nanyang Technologial University (Singapore), the Montana State University (USA) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) –, NBIC will also collaborate with a network of over 50 companies from different sectors to exploit the UK’s global leadership in biofilms. NBIC’s inclusive model means that other universities and companies conducting biofilm research can participate and benefit from partnership with the NBIC consortium.