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Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy

Strategic Theme: Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy

Reducing reliance on fossil fuels is essential to allow the UK to establish a low carbon economy, and meet international targets for reducing emissions. Industrial biotechnology (IB) uses biological processes and resources for non-food applications, such as generation of high value chemicals and biopharmaceuticals, or new materials for medical applications. In Cambridge, multidisciplinary research teams across the University are pioneering novel methods that will underpin the development of the bio-based economy. These include projects on metabolic modelling to enhance production of antimicrobials, reprogramming of plant development and morphogenesis by synthetic biology, and enzyme evolution for optimisation of biocatalysis. Other examples involve biophysical and mathematical approaches to understand behaviour of individual microbial cells in order to reduce energy inputs into industrial cultivation, or novel ways of harvesting and processing.

Bioenergy will make a major contribution to renewable energy production in the future, but research is needed to reduce the costs of these processes and to increase the scale of production. The Bioenergy Initiative at Cambridge encompasses research groups not just in biosciences but also physical sciences, engineering and mathematics, and is also part of a larger Energy@Cam strategic initiative. Projects include those addressing the study of plant cell walls for lignocellulosic ethanol production, algae for bioenergy and remediation of waste-water and CO2 emissions, as well as artificial photosynthesis.


The Programme allows students to undertake research in any of the DTP Partnership Departments or Institutes (subject to the scope of the relevant theme). Thus, any academic associated with a Department or external Partner Institute within the DTP Partnership may submit rotation/PhD projects for consideration by incoming DTP students.

Students are advised to utilise the GSLS Research Database to explore research being conducted at the University. 


IBBE   Algae machine

Examples of projects offered in the IBBE Theme:

2012/13 academic year

2013/14 academic year

2014/15 academic year

2015/16 academic year

2016/17 academic year

2017/18 academic year