£4 million funding available for synthetic biology applications in defence

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is looking for innovative applications of synthetic biology for defence and security.

CDE funds innovative research that could lead to a cost-effective capability advantage for UK armed forces and national security through regular themed and enduring challenge competitions. The Synthetic Biology Applications in Defence themed competition explores the opportunities presented by synthetic biology. The total funding available for the competition is up to £4 million to be split over 2 phases. Funding for the phase 1 competition is worth £1 million. Phase 2 funding will be awarded to only the most successful outputs of phase 1 funded projects and is worth up to £3 million.

More information is available on the Synthetic Biology Applications in Defence competition via a pre-recorded webinar. The competition is open for proposals now and closes on 6 November 2014.

Synthetic biology is an emerging, multidisciplinary research area that includes engineering, bioscience, chemistry and information technology. Synthetic biology aims to design and engineer novel biologically-based parts, devices and systems, as well as redesign existing natural biological systems for useful purposes. It has the potential to address some of the more difficult problems facing UK defence and security, and opens new avenues in protecting the armed forces and civilian populations.

Professor Petra Oyston, Principal Scientist in Dstl’s Biomedical Sciences Department says:

The potential applications of synthetic biology approaches in defence are really exciting and wide ranging. For example synthetic biology could play a part in the development of lightweight but strong compounds, novel camouflage solutions, multi-function materials or sensor technologies for detecting explosives. We are expecting the £4 million available for this initiative to stimulate a wide range of innovative and inter-disciplinary work leading to impact across defence and security capability.

The competition is seeking submissions in three areas, exploiting synthetic biology for:

  • the protection of the Armed Forces
  • novel sensor technologies
  • potential revolutions, where existing applications could be modified for a defence and security purpose
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