What is the bioeconomy?

The bioeconomy – transforming challenges into opportunity

Bioscience, at the heart of many technological advances, has the potential to address some of the world’s greatest challenges, such as feeding a growing population and offering alternatives to dwindling natural resources.

4C51C235-DFF5-45F1-9DC7E1479CD4C7DC_sourceThe bioeconomy is the economic benefit of embracing these challenges with biological solutions, estimated to be worth at least €2Tn (£1.7Tn) in the EU and employing around 22 million people.

BBSRC’s research investment underpins the bioeconomy by nurturing world-class research, innovation and training, and by allowing UK scientists to work in partnership with national and international collaborators, such as industry and other academics, to transform the economy.

By investing in the science behind the bioeconomy, BBSRC is contributing to UK economic growth, improving existing industries and creating new, more sustainable products and services. This helps to build a more sustainable economy – the bioeconomy.

The bioscience revolution

The bioeconomy is not a modern concept but thanks to innovation in bioscience its breadth is expanding rapidly as new advances are delivered. Examples include using specialised microbes to transform wastes into bioenergy, or using plants as pharmaceutical ‘factories’ for reliable and rapid vaccine production.

Emerging areas of research, such as synthetic biology and big data approaches, mean that new knowledge is being generated at a remarkable pace. Recent innovations in the lab, for example, now mean that sequencing a whole human genome is rapid – costing no more than a season ticket for a premier league football club (£1000).

These research outputs are being utilised by established and new companies to give us new products or better ways of making everyday household products, such as washing powder. Just as important are things like bioscience’s contribution to animal health where preventing disease in farm animals saves money for the UK. A great example is how bioscience research led to the development of strategies and vaccines to prevent outbreaks of bluetongue virus in UK farm animals, saving the UK economy around £480M, securing up to 10,000 jobs and protecting our food supply.


Next steps

BBSRC is ensuring that the research base is primed to enable the UK to seize these opportunities for the benefit of society. BBSRC support the translation of discoveries out of the lab and into society to offer sustainable biological solutions to the challenges we face, whilst delivering real economic and social impact.

Find out more about the bioeconomy here: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/bioeconomy


The UK bioeconomy – a definition

“All economic activity derived from bio-based products and processes which contributes to sustainable and resource-efficient solutions to the challenges we face in food, chemicals, materials, energy production, health and environmental protection.”

This definition is from Innovate UK: Communicating the bioeconomy (PDF).


BBSRC, press release, 2015-08-21.


Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Innovate UK


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