• £100 million funding to lead major science & tech hub to reduce plastic waste

Business News

£100 million funding to lead major science & tech hub to reduce plastic waste

Feb 12 2024

The University of Portsmouth is to share in £100 million of funding, it has been announced by the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT) today.

The money will be given to six new ‘Engineering Biology Mission Hubs’ and 22 ‘Mission Award’ projects across the country, that will look to build on Engineering Biology’s enormous potential to address global challenges, drive economic growth, and increase national resilience.

The University’s Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) will lead the Preventing Plastic Pollution with Engineering Biology (P3EB) Mission Hub, which also includes Bangor University, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, University of Manchester, and University College London. The P3EB Mission Hub will receive £11.2 million from the “UKRI Technology Missions Fund” over the next 5 years, with £3.5 million supporting the CEI in Portsmouth.

The P3EB Mission Hub is a pioneering initiative aimed at transforming end-of-life plastic waste using cutting-edge engineering biology technologies. Working in partnership, the CEI will use its transformative enzyme technology to impart value into plastic waste, incentivising its recovery and retention, and so reducing the amount destined for landfill, for incineration, or being discarded into our environment.

Professor Andy Pickford, Director of the CEI and lead principal investigator of the P3EB Mission Hub, said: “Our approach is enabled by our wide-ranging expertise and our influential project partners, and steered by engagement with the public and with policymakers. Our mission is aligned with the needs of industry, so as to bring about comprehensive and enduring change, and support the transition towards a circular plastics economy in the UK, creating job opportunities and wealth for the country.

“We are delighted that DSIT, UKRI and BBSRC share our vision, and are determined to deliver positive impacts for the economy, for society and – most importantly – for our environment.”

Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Long term growth is the only way we will deliver the public services and improvements in living standards that every Briton wants for themselves and their families.

“But as history shows, it is technological and scientific advances that are the true engine room of growth, and despite our existing strengths in these sectors, we cannot afford to pat ourselves on our back and take our eye off the ball.

“Cementing the UK as a Science and Technology superpower by 2030 is more than a slogan. It is a goal we must reach if we want to grow our economy, continue creating well-paid jobs and build a better, healthier, more prosperous future for the UK.

“The comprehensive bundle of new announcements and pledges will be integral to making the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030 and delivering long-term change across the country.”

Since its conception in 2019, the CEI has been delivering transformative enzyme-enabled solutions for the circular recycling of plastics. During the last year it has been accelerating research which can take these enzymes to the next level of recycling at scale. The jump from the laboratory to real-world applications requires an approach that combines state-of-the-art facilities, exceptional researchers and, crucially, close collaboration with government, business and key research institutions across the UK.

The CEI forms part of the University’s Revolution Plastics Institute, recently launched following the success of the Revolution Plastics initiative that has been instrumental in informing national and global policies on plastics, pioneering advanced enzyme recycling techniques and contributing to critical discussions on the UN treaty to end plastic pollution.  The Institute operates as a network of interconnected researchers and innovators across the University, consolidating and expanding a world-leading plastic-focused research, innovation and teaching community.

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