Swansea is set to become a UK leader in the natural product research and enterprise sector, as the University has succeeded in a bid for funding of £587,000 to set up a new centre known as the BioHUB.
Natural products are substances or compounds found in nature, marine organisms, bacteria, fungi, and plants.
The Natural Products BioHUB aims to encourage wider use of natural products in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries to help develop a healthier, greener and more sustainable city and region.
The funding for the project was awarded by Swansea Council through the UK Government's Shared Prosperity Fund.
Swansea University is a world leader in natural product research, which incorporates biosciences, chemistry and biochemical engineering, as well as drawing on developments in artificial intelligence and computational biology.
Researchers are pioneering advances in areas such as environmentally friendly insect pest control, biopesticide development, algal and microbial biotechnology, and innovative invertebrate model systems.
The BioHUB will knit together a network linking academic researchers with industry, community stakeholders and public bodies. The shared aim will be to nurture resilient and sustainable business growth - and contribute to Net Zero targets - by developing nature-based innovations, making Swansea a centre of excellence in the field.
The BioHUB will:
- Support the growth of local bio-based or biotech businesses by providing research and development expertise. This will include start-up and spin-out businesses.
- Lead to new natural product developments and services thanks to the collaboration of academic expertise and industry. This will include the networking of bio-based and biotech companies with data science and robotics companies.
- Boost communities by improving green infrastructure and enabling access to nature-based local products.
- Benefit local businesses because of the increased footfall that planned networking activities and international conferences would create.
- Explore opportunities to work with bio-based and biotech companies looking to relocate to the Swansea Bay City Region.
Farooq Shah, Project Manager of the Natural Products BioHUB, said:
"We envisage the NP BioHUB as a bridge between research and industry to expedite intellectual property generation and the creation of novel products and services. This collaborative approach also extends to our partnership with public bodies and industries, effectively equipping the workforce for emerging sectors."
Professor Tariq Butt of Swansea University, joint lead of the project, said:
“Through our multifaceted expertise and the strategic upskilling of our local workforce, we are propelling Swansea towards global leadership in natural product innovation. Our strong ties with the UK and international industries equip us to address both local and global challenges through innovative and impactful means."
Professor Dan Eastwood of Swansea University, joint lead, added:
“The proposed establishment of a unique natural products library at Swansea, envisions the university as the UK's premier center of excellence for new product development. He highlighted the combination of screening facilities and cutting-edge insilico technologies as game-changers, facilitating the rapid development of novel products.
Swansea University will also work with Swansea Council and Hacer Developments to explore funding sources that could help establish an incubation hub at the 'biophilic building' development now under construction at Picton Yard in the city centre. The hub would offer lab and offices spaces for start-ups and spin-outs.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said:
"The Natural Products BioHUB project is very worthy of our support as it has enormous potential not just to place Swansea at the heart of global natural products innovation but also to contribute to a healthier, greener and more sustainable city in future.”
Adapted from original story published by Swansea Council