The Royce Institute for advanced materials research and innovation has partnered with the MIB and Future BRH to provide a new instrument platform for the rapid discovery and engineering of biological systems for the manufacture of advanced Materials from Biology and bio-based materials for clean growth. This is a crucial and burgeoning area of research for the Royce Future Chemicals Material Discovery theme and an important focus for the Future BRH.

Located on the first floor of the MIB the investment now provides an internationally field-leading infrastructure. Central to this capability is a newly installed integrated robotics platform which comprises a robotic arm and integration software that connects and controls a series of instruments including acoustic and pipette based liquid handling robots, plate sealers/de-sealers, centrifuges and incubators for automated (24/7) micro-titre plate-based protocols (including: generation of DNA libraries; culturing, transformation, incubation and growth of bacterial colonies; high throughput screening assays and product extraction).  Further complementary equipment supported through this Royce investment comprises high throughput microbial colony picking, next generation sequencing (PacBio Sequel) and liquid and supercritical liquid chromatography (HPLC/SFC).

Through automated, high throughput enzyme engineering (directed evolution) and synthetic biology protocols the platform will allow us to harness the enormous chemical space provided by biology to engineer biological (microbial) systems for the synthesis of bio-produced materials. Key research areas include: the development of sustainable bio-based routes to advanced materials; end of life degradation and recycling; and development of next generation bio-inspired materials.

We are very excited to be developing this facility through collaboration with the Henry Royce Institute and the SYNBIOCHEM Centre. It will significantly enhance our ability to rapidly engineer biology for new materials discovery – Dr Ros Le Feuvre (Director of Operations FBRH).

Our recent article published in 2020 highlights the potential to rapidly prototype microbial production strains for the biomanufacture of material monomers: Robinson CJ, et al (2020). Metab. Eng.
Once fully operational this facility will be open to both academic and industrial users through the Henry Royce Institute.

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