Algae-UK is a UK based network supporting the community of scientists and engineers working with/ interested in industrial biotechnology applications of algae including cyanobacteria, microalgae and macroalgae (seaweeds) .
We are one of six phase II Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) supported by the BBSRC. The aim is to encourage closer links between academics and industry in order to translate the smart ideas and concepts developed out of these relationships into workable solutions that transition into real world products and processes that impact all our lives: whether it is through reducing the impact our travel, food or clothing has on the environment or increasing the range of products that improve our health. Or maybe even in ways we don’t yet know or can envisage.
Algae-UK will serve as the hub for the UK algal biosciences research community, businesses operating in this industrial biotechnology (IB) sector, and other stakeholders – creating the critical mass of expertise, effort and focus needed to achieve key step-changes and make the UK a leading player in algal biotechnology. We will continue to support those scientists and engineers working with or using the products coming from algae through funding schemes for small scale collaborative projects, running networking events and encouraging collaboration and engagement at all levels.
We are looking to share the exciting developments within the network and the broader algae community and helping people explore the world of algae and what they can do.
Based on the success of the NIBB phase I network, PHYCONET, Algae-UK is well positioned to expand their remit to include macroalgae (seaweeds), microalgae and cyanobacteria and like PHYCONET we have some core scientific themes which will be running through ours and our members’ activities:
- Strain domestication and development of platform species
Many algal species are not well studied and we don’t know how they make the things they make or what conditions will deliver the processes and products we need. So this is all about understanding them and ensuring they (and the processing using them) are robust enough to consistently deliver the products we need.
- Exploitation of algal metabolic diversity
There is such a huge variety of algal organisms representing a largely untapped resource that could deliver a whole range of new, more sustainable materials and products. From new food and fragrance ingredients, to dyes, paints and fabrics, medicines, dressings, animal nutrition and even fuels and chemicals.
- Biomass production and downstream processing
so you’ve grown your algae, how do you get what you need out or process you algae to give the product you want? This can be a significant challenge particularly when it also needs to be economic.
- Assess opportunities and barriers to commercialisation
While many of these challenges aren’t always scientific or technical, sometimes a scientific or technical solution can help mitigate or reduce their impact on the route to commercialisation.