PHYCONET is a BBSRC NIBB (Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy), a UK-wide, industry-focused network enabling biologists, engineers and industrial partners to consolidate their knowledge and expertise to unlock the IB potential of microalgae. Funding for the 5-year network was awarded to PHYCONET Director Saul Purton (University College London) and Co-Director Michele Stanley (Scottish Association for Marine Science).

The focus of the network is on high-value products from microalgae (including cyanobacteria) industrially cultivated in an intensive and controlled manner using PBR and fermentor technologies.

The main research objectives of the PHYCONET network are grouped into five streams:

  1. Build on current expertise and progress in algal genomics, synthetic biology and systems biology to develop key species as platform strains for the IB sector.
  2. Exploit the knowledge-base in bioinformatics, data mining, ‘omics, metabolic modeling and biological chemistry to identify new algal genes and metabolic pathways that could be exploited commercially, either through transfer to platform strains or industrial cultivation of the natural species.
  3. Develop a robust, cost-effective and scalable photobioreactor technology for the IB sector.
  4. Advance cultivation (phototrophic, mixotrophic and heterotrophic growth) and downstream processing technologies.
  5. Assess opportunities and barriers to commercialisation.


Funding is available in the form of BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Vouchers and Proof of Concept funds. Funds will be awarded to an academic institution and the applicant must be a PHYCONET member. We encourage applications from early-career researchers.

BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Vouchers

These vouchers provide £5000 (including VAT) and will fund projects no longer than 6 months in duration. Applications for BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Vouchers are now welcome in all five research streams. Please read the Terms and Conditions before completing the application form.

Download the PHYCONET BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Vouchers Terms & Conditions (updated 14/08/14).

Download the PHYCONET BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Voucher Application Form.

Proof of Concept Funding

PoC grants will be available at 80% fEC in all research streams to fund longer-term projects. Details will be posted when we launch these funds.


Free media training for BBSRC-funded scientists

Presenting your research through the media is an effective and efficient way to communicate with large audiences. This course provides an ideal introduction to the media and how to use it to promote your science.
The course covers subjects including working with the press office, understanding how the media works and offers the chance for recorded interview practice with real BBC journalists (which are treated confidentially).
The BBSRC is holding two of these courses, both taking place in central London, on September 2 and December 9.

All PHYCONET (and other NIBB) scientists, from PhD students to PIs, are eligible to attend for free, and the BBSRC will pay for reasonable travel expenses and (if required) for accommodation for one night.

For further details, please visit free media training.

BBSRC and NIBB events

Month Date Event Location
October 2014 10 IBCarb: Food, materials and energy Manchester
November 2014 6-7 IBCarb: Lectin-sugar interactions in health and disease Norwich
  27-28 BBSRC: IBBE Grant Holders Workshop Warwick
January 2015 14-15 C1Net: First Annual Symposium Hilton Hotel, Nottingham
February 2015 11-12 BBSRC: IB Showcase QEII Conference Centre, London

External events

Month Date Event Location
September 2014 21-24 4th International Bielefeld-CeBiTec Research Conference Bielefeld University, Germany
  25 Exploring the Challenges in Downstream Processing for Industrial Biotechnology CPI, Wilton
  Sept 29-Oct 2 Algae Biomass Summit San Diego, California
November 2014 17-19 Focus on Frontiers in Industrial Biotechnology London
December 2014 2-3 8th International Algae Congress Gent, Belgium
August 2015 23-28 6th European Phycological Congress Hotel Novotel London West, London

Biohorizons survey to develop the bioeconomy

Aberystwyth University is the lead partner on a Climate-KIC pathfinder project called Biohorizons to help develop the European bioeconomy.    

The Biohorizons project involves a pan-European network collating research on regional differences in bioeconomic development.

A major part of the study is an online survey of stakeholders in the bioeconomy, asking them what interventions are required to best develop the sector.

We  would be very grateful if you could assist the project by completing the survey.


If you would like to become a member of PHYCONET, please read the Membership Terms & Conditions (updated 14/08/14) and complete the Membership Application Form.

Please note that this is a temporary webpage until our official website goes live. If you have any photographs which represent the objectives of the network (e.g. of high value products themselves, or algal strains, equipment, facilities, etc) that you are happy for us to publish on the official website, please send them to, along with details of who to credit.

Please address enquiries to:

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