Consultation on future NIBB scope

BBSRC is seeking to renew the funding of Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB). It is expected that a smaller number of networks, potentially with a wider remit and community, may be sought to minimise overlap and the numbers of events that run. This renewal process provides an opportunity to rethink the remit of the NIBB and help ensure that they serve the research and industry communities appropriately going forward.

To help inform this process, you can complete a short questionnaire which can be accessed following this link here

The survey is hosted by QDP Services Ltd, who will analyse the data and share it with the NIBB.

The deadline for completion of the survey is Friday 30th June


UK-India Industrial waste challenge 2017

Innovate UK and Research Councils, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), are investing up to £8 million in projects that use cutting-edge solutions to reduce industrial waste in India.

Projects should address reducing industrial waste and pollution, and improve value recovery from waste using biotechnology in one or more of these 5 sectors:

  • leather/tanning/textiles
  • municipal solid waste
  • paper and pulp
  • sewage
  • sugar cane

The total project grant will not exceed £2 million per project for UK partners. Match funding will be made available for Indian project partners by the Government of India. Projects should last between 30 months and 3 years.

Important dates

Final date for UK registration: midday 11 October 2017

Submission of full application: midday 18 October 2017

Further details on the call can be found here.

There is also a workshop on 12th July in York, UK which is open to UK and Indian delegates: 

Congratulations to Carmen Galan, 2017 Dextra Award winner!

Congratulations to Dr Carmen Galan who has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Dextra Carbohydrate Chemistry Award for 2017

The award is given to Dr Galan in recognition of her research into new synthetic methodologies for oligosaccharide synthesis and the development of novel glycoconjugate probes to study cellular processes. She will present her award lecture at the RSC Carbohydrate Group Autumn meeting in Dublin in September, where she will be presented with a silver medal.

Bioactive Polysaccharides register now!

Bioactive Polysaccharides workshop

12-13th September 2017, Cambridge UK

Register here


Due to advances in the tools available to study carbohydrates, polysaccharides have been found to participate in many biological processes which has led to a growing area of research in the use of these bioactive polysaccharides. In addition, there is growing interest in the use of carbohydrates, as sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, and their sustainable advanced manufacture via biotechnology and synthetic biology approaches.

In this workshop the following will be explored:

  • Isolation of polysaccharides from complex mixtures e.g. from cellular secretory processes for the production of exopolysaccharides (EPS) & refining of native biomass for sustainable high value manufacturing;
  • Recent advances in analytical tools, which are furthering understanding of carbohydrates and their roles in biological processes and the structural properties required for bioactivity;
  • How polysaccharides can be functionalised to either optimise or introduce bioactive properties using chemo-enzymatic techniques;
  • Examples of bioactive polysaccharide production for sustainable health and wellbeing e.g. in food & nutrition: as dietary fibres and prebiotics for a healthy gut & improved immunity; and, as advanced materials in biomedical applications e.g. tissue engineering, wound healing dressings & drug delivery and controlled release systems.

This will be an exciting two-day event and will include key note talks, flash presentations, as well as group discussions to identify strategic areas of research and to start building links between participating researchers and establish consortia.

This is in anticipation of future funding calls from national funding bodies e.g. the Global Challenges Research Fund, UK, a £1.5bn fund to support cutting edge research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries in various areas.

Innovate UK, BBSRC, EPSRC and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) are planning a UK-India Newton-Bhabha Fund joint call for innovative biological solutions in the area of industrial waste, expected to be launched in May 2017.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Paul Dupree, University of Cambridge
  • Katja Johansen, Novozymes
  • Christophe Courtin, KU Leuven
  • William Willats, University of Newcastle
  • Andy Laws, University of Huddersfield
  • Tom Simmons, University of Cambridge
  • Lis Lowe, University of Newcastle
  • Fred Warren, Institute of Food Research
  • Amalesh Samanta, Jadavpur University, India

All delegates are invited to give flash presentations to ensure effective networking and knowledge sharing between all meeting delegates. Please indicate when prompted during the registration process your willingness to present.

Accommodation – will be provided for all network members, please select during registration.

IBCarb Travel bursaries – are available to all early career researchers attending this event.

For all queries about this event please contact the IBCarb Network Manager

This workshop is supported by:

BBSRC International Workshop ‘Bioactive polysaccharide production for sustainable health and wellbeing’ India (Grant reference BB/P025668/1).

BioCatNet – Network in biocatalyst discovery, development and scale up – a BBSRC funded Network in Industrial Biotechnology & Bioenergy. (Grant reference BB/L013649/1).

IBCarb Network – Glycoscience Tools for Biotechnology & Bioenergy – a BBSRC funded Network in Industrial Biotechnology & Bioenergy. (Grant reference BB/L013762/1).

Successful IBCarb workshop

IBCarb hosted a workshop UK-Latin-America Workshop “Glycobiotechnology Tools for Human Health” a joint event with the Glycoscience in Health Network (México) that took place at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, University of Manchester on 2-3 May 2017. Approximately 60 delegates attended this 2 day event.

 Our visitors from Latin-America who all gave key note talks were:

  • Ivan Martínez Duncker (Cell Dynamics Research Center. Morelos State Autonomous University, México)
  • Juana E. Reyes Martínez (University of Guanajuato – México)
  • Héctor M. Mora Montes (University of Guanajuato, México)
  • Yobana Pérez Cervera (Universidad Benito Juárez de Oaxaca – México)
  • Carlos Josué Solorzano Mata (Universidad Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, México)
  • Leila Lopes-Bezerra (Rio de Janeiro State University, Brazil

From the IBCarb network, Pauline Rudd (NIBRT, IE) & Rob Field (John Innes Centre) gave key note talks and there were a series of flash presentations from a number of IBCarb members.

During the discussions 3 key health areas were identified where glycobiotechnology solutions could address the challenges:

  • Human Gut Microbiome;
  • Carbohydrate based vaccines (including adjuvants and glycoconjugates);
  • Diagnostics/Precision Medicines.

Joint funding proposals will be developed between delegates. The workshop will be followed up by a event taking place at University of Guanajuato, México in October with support from the Newton Fund and a roadmap is planned for late 2017 so watch this space!

PhD – Fungal enzymes in plant carbohydrate degradation

Full project title: The enzymatic mechanism underlying fungal degradation of carbohydrates in plant lignocellulose

Supervisor: Dr Jolanda van Munster, University of Manchester


This interdisciplinary project investigates the enzymatic mechanism underlying fungal degradation of complex carbohydrates in plant biomass.

As efficient degraders of dead plant biomass, fungi are able to produce enzymes that can break down the complex of polysaccharides and lignin in the plant cell wall. This ability is exploited in biotechnology to release sugars from renewable resources which are subsequently used to produce high-value chemicals and second-generation biofuels. Understanding how fungi degrade biomass is a prerequisite for their exploitation as cell factory for biofuel enzymes, and for development of novel enzymes for the engineering of complex plant-derived carbohydrates. The response of industrially important fungi to lignocellulose has been studied extensively with regard to gene expression and protein secretion (1,2). However, we have limited understanding of how fungi and their carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) affect the actual lignocellulose substrate, and the biochemical activity of a large proportion of plant degradative CAZymes has not been established experimentally.

This project investigates the enzymatic mechanism underlying fungal degradation of complex carbohydrates in plant biomass. We have recently established methods for the high-throughput informative screening of CAZyme activities on complex plant carbohydrates using glycan arrays coupled with mass spectrometry (3). In this project you will expand on these methods by using a combination of chemical and enzymatic synthesis to generate glycan arrays containing a defined set of enzyme substrates. These arrays will subsequently be applied to determine the substrate and product specificity of a subset of the CAZymes secreted by fungus Aspergillus niger during growth on agricultural waste. You will then investigate the localisation and effect of these enzymes on this plant substrate using fungal biology, molecular biology and surface characterisation tools.

For further information contact or read here:

IBCarb Proof of Concept – FINAL call, deadline 30th June 2017

IBCarb Proof of Concept funding is now available to support Academic-Industry partnerships that focus on strategic areas of glycobiotechnology. This is an open call and we will consider applications in each of our themes ToolsRenewables (materials, chemical and energy), FoodHealth and Societal Impact that align with the BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology agenda (see more here).

This is our final call for projects and we have ~£140,000 (at 100% FEC) left to allocate to IBCarb members.

Projects should:

  1. Be £20,000 at 100% FEC (i.e. £16,000 at 80% FEC) maximum value;
  2. Be no more than six months in duration;
  3. Commence no later than January 2018;
  4. Have strong industry/public support and steerage;
  5. Align with the BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology agenda;
  6. Follow BBSRC funding rules.

For further guidance and to download application forms please visit or contact the Network Manager (Dr Claire Doherty,

Deadline for applications is 30th June 2017.


PhD – Expanding galactose oxidase towards bioactive saccharides

Full project title: Expanding the selectivity and activity of galactose oxidase towards bioactive saccharide products

Supervisors: Professor Sabine Flitsch & Professor Nicholas Turner at University of Manchester

Description – This 4-year fully-funded PhD studentship is part of the BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Industrial Biotechnology, sponsored by BBSRC, Bio-Shape Ltd and Prozomix Limited and will commence in October 2017.

Summary – This project aims to generate a library of sugar oxidases with novel and highly specific substrate selectivity based on parent galactose oxidase enzymes. We will use a combination of homology searches of genomic databases (Prozomix Limited),directed evolution (The University of Manchester), high-throughput enzyme expression in bacterial hosts (Prozomix) and fast high-resolution analytical screening techniques (Bio-Shape Ltd and The University of Manchester) for enzyme discovery.

To find out more and to apply navigate here