UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Prof. Alex Conradie awarded investment from BBSRC bioscience prosperity partnership programme

29 November 2023

UCL and partner Unilever will lead a consortium that is one of the ten business-academic research collaborations to share in an investment of over £42m. The project launched by the BBSRC is designed to unlock innovation and deliver bio-based solutions for key industry challenges.

Alex Conradie

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will support ten new research partnerships between UK businesses and academic institutions in its first round of prosperity partnership funding.

From developing effective cancer drugs to reducing the environmental impact of industrial processes, the inaugural awards offer a unique opportunity for UK businesses and their academic collaborators to address key challenges facing the bioscience and biotechnology sectors.

The new programme has invested more than £17 million from BBSRC, together with support from partners at the Medical Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This UKRI cross-council investment has been more than matched by industry partners including Boots and Unilever, demonstrating the strength and transformation potential of the new programme. 

UCL Biochemical Engineering’s Professor Alex Conradie will be the UCL lead for the project titled “Decarbonising the Surfactant and Functional Polymer Value Chains by enzymatic processes”, which will be co-funded by EPSRC. 

Surfactants and polymers are key ingredients of laundry and cleaning products. A substantial proportion of these are currently produced from fossil reserves. Unilever aims to re-design surfactants and polymers from bio-based feedstocks, and to explore their potential applications and manufacture. This far-reaching demonstration of sustainable technologies presents worldwide deployment opportunities.

Dr Lee Beniston FRSB, Associate Director for Industry Partnerships and Collaborative R&D at BBSRC, said:
“The inaugural round of the BBSRC prosperity partnerships programme has been a huge success. Led by BBSRC, with investment from our colleagues at MRC and EPSRC, we will invest more than £17 million in ten projects. 
This investment will support outstanding, long-term collaborative partnerships between businesses and academic researchers across the UK. Through the BBSRC prosperity partnerships programme, the businesses involved are investing over £21 million into research and development. 
The projects supported will deliver on UK ambitions for private sector investment in research and innovation as outlined in the Science and Technology Framework, helping to drive economic growth and societal impact through key bioscience and biotechnology sectors and industries.”

This project will take place at the newly opened Manufacturing Futures Lab (MFL), located at UCL's new campus in East London. UCL has created an innovative facility to support the development of new strategic research focused on knowledge-based manufacturing to deliver the sustainable products and processes of the future.