Engineering Biology Leadership Council

Bringing together funding agencies, research community, industry, government and other stakeholders for the strategic coordination of UK synthetic biology / engineering biology.

The Engineering Biology Leadership Council is no longer active (as of Dec 2023) and will be replaced by a governmental Engineering Biology Steering group. Details will appear here once available.

The UK Government established the Engineering Biology Leadership Council (EBLC) – formerly known as the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council (SBLC) – to provide a steering structure governance body to assess progress and update recommendations and shape priorities for future implementation of the synthetic biology roadmap for the UK.

EBLC provided a visible point for strategic coordination between the funding agencies, the research community, industry, government sponsors and other stakeholders, including societal and ethical representatives.

Secretariat of the EBLC was provided by Innovate UK Business Connect: for more information on our work in engineering/synthetic biology, click here.

To learn more about the EBLC, please contact Dana Heldt.

Synbio in the UK – A decade of developments

A report launched by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009 highlighted Synbio as an emerging and enabling technology, capable of providing cross sector solutions in areas ranging from health and chemicals to Agritech and materials to name a few.

A decade on, there has been:

  • An investment of more than £300m of public funding into synthetic biology research and capability in the UK.
  • The establishment of six Synthetic Biology Research Centres (SBRCs), five DNA synthesis facilities, centres for doctoral training and a dedicated Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) ensuring the education and maintenance of a skilled Synbio research base.
  • Publication of further Synbio documents with the ‘Roadmap for Synbio in 2012’ and ‘Biodesign for the Bioeconomy in 2016’ a strategic plan for UK synthetic biology to translate the Synbio opportunities into commercial outcomes.
  • Formation of over 150 Start-up and spin out Synbio companies.
  • Establishment of a Synbio community and network through Innovate UK Business Connect’s Synbio SIG.

In 2019, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council published an achievement brochure highlighting UK Synbio activities in the last 10 years. Download the brochure here.


Building Back Better

In 2020 the Engineering Biology Leadership Council (EBLC) reviewed the main needs and opportunities to stimulate future economic growth in the UK via engineering biology, clarifying a number of high priority actions that would be most effective in unlocking the economic and societal benefits, increasing productivity, and delivering widespread jobs and growth. Three working groups separately addressed in detail the three broad market application segments of agri-food, manufacturing (chemicals and materials) and healthcare, identifying a number of key interventions that could be usefully made to unlock the benefits arising from recent technological advances. Potential first-wave ‘trailblazers’ were identified as a means to pioneer and ‘stress-test’ more joined-up systems from feedstock to customer, streamlining routes to market for multiple further innovations to follow. As the new post-Covid ‘normal’ dawns, attention can again refocus upon the challenges and opportunities associated with longer-term sustainability goals and net-zero emissions production challenges. The worked examples and proposals here should provide a valuable resource from which to shape and prioritise the policies and investments required to ‘Build Back Better’ in the UK, facilitating innovations spanning the bioeconomy with significant help from engineering biology.

Click here to download the “Building Back Better” report.


The policy brief “Supporting the delivery of the engineering biology sector”, an advisory note to BEIS, has been added to the EBLC website as a contribution to UK Government strategic decision making on delivering a healthy, creative and sustainable innovation ecosystem for the sector. The paper was prepared by Joseph Sallmen (John Innes Centre) as part of a BBSRC Flexible Talents Mobility Award, along with 2 members of the EBLC, Joyce Tait and Dale Sanders. Click here to read the full paper. (June 2022)


Members of the Engineering Biology Leadership Council

Members of the EBLC included:

  • Prof Lionel Clarke (EBLC Co-Chair)
  • George Freeman MP (BEIS, EBLC Co-Chair)
  • Prof Richard Kitney (Imperial College London; SynbiCITE)
  • Prof Dale Sanders (John Innes Centre)
  • Prof Joyce Tait (Innogen Centre, University of Edinburgh)
  • Dr David Tew (GSK)
  • Dr Jason Vincent (Tropic Biosciences)
  • Dr Dana Heldt (Innovate UK Business Connect)
  • Prof Tim Daffron (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Edward Green (BIA EBAC),
  • Prof Petra Oyston (DSTL),
  • Dr Gordon Ford (UKRI-Innovate UK)
  • Dr Rowan McKibbin (UKRI-BBSRC)
  • Dr Martin Cannell (Defra)
  • Hannah Williams (DiT)
  • Stephanie Croker (GoS)
  • Mark Renshaw (BEIS)
  • Philippa Sharma (BEIS)

Secretariat: Dana Heldt (Innovate UK Business Connect)


Sponsors and Partners

Support for the EBLC was provided by Innovate UKBBSRC and Innovate UK Business Connect.

Downloads & documents:

Supporting the delivery of the engineering biology sector (June 2022)

Minutes from previous meetings:

Building Back Better (2020)

Synthetic Biology in the UK 2009-2019 – A Decade of Rapid Progress (2019)

A Living Foundry for Synthetic Biological Materials – A Synthetic Biology Roadmap to New Advanced Materials (2018)

SBLC response to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling of 25th July 2018 on the regulation of products developed using genome editing techniques. (2018)

UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016 – Biodesign for the Bioeconomy (2016)

A Strategic Roadmap for Synthetic Biology in the UK (2012)

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Dana Heldt

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