Nottingham scientists help launch National Biofilms Innovation Centre

27 Nov 2017 14:03:22.133


World-leading microbiologists at the University of Nottingham will be pioneering new ways to kill, control or exploit microbial biofilms that cause infection, antibiotic resistance and industrial damage as part of a new National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC). 

The new centre pulls together the UK’s highest expertise in biofilm research and is supported by a commitment of £26 million over the next five years, including £12.5 million from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Centre (BBSRC) and Innovate UK. NBIC will be officially launched at an event at the Royal Society in London on Tuesday 28 November 2017. 

With additional support from universities and industry, NBIC will bring together the best of UK biofilm research with UK companies from across the industrial sectors to accelerate the adoption of new technologies into live products and services.

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Microbial biofilm research is now a feature of many scientific disciplines including biological sciences, medicine, chemistry, physics, computational modelling, engineering and ocean science. Biofilms are central to some of the most urgent global challenges across diverse fields of application, from medicine to industry to the environment and exert considerable economic and social impact:  

  • They are a leading cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), forecast to cost $100T in world GDP and 10M deaths by 2050.
  • They are the major cause of chronic infections, costing the NHS £2bn per annum. 
  • Contamination, energy losses and damage by biofilms impact on the £70B UK foods industry, the $2.8T consumer products sector, and $117B global coatings industry.
  • Biofilm management is essential to deliver clean and globally sustainable drinking water and food security. 

NBIC is a multi-site Innovation and Knowledge Centre led by teams at the Universities of Southampton, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Liverpool. A further 11 universities1, three research centres – Diamond Synchrotron, the Hartree Centre and the Quadram Institute – and three major global academic partners –  The Nanyang Technologial University (Singapore), the Montana State University (USA) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) are also members. 

“This new National Biofilms Innovation Centre is poised to create a fusion of world-class interdisciplinary research and industry partnerships to deliver breakthrough science and technologies to control and exploit biofilms,” said Jeremy Webb, Principal Investigator and Co-Director for NBIC . “The UK is home to some of the most advanced research and commercial opportunities for the exploitation of biofilms so combining our talents gives us the best opportunity to establish a national, and international, agenda to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges and work seamlessly across academic and industry to stimulate growth in this vital area.” 

University of Nottingham NBIC Co-ordinator, Professor Miguel Cámara, said: “On of the main remits for Nottingham will be to kill, remove or control detrimental biofilms, as part of our efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance, and to harness beneficial biofilms for example to generate clean water. We will do this by understanding and exploiting their life cycle dynamics and development across a range of environments with different levels of complexity. Such a challenging task can only be achived through a highly multidisciplinary partnership we have at our University.” 

Biofilm research at Nottingham spans the Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences, Science and Engineering with  particular strengths in areas such as antimicrobial discovery, the design of novel surfaces which prevent biofilm formation, waste water treatment and state of the art imaging. Participating in the activities of NBIC will also be the University’s Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, where the NBIC branch will be hosted, the Centre for Healthcare Technologies, the Interface and Surface Analysis Centre, the School of Life Sciences Imaging unit and the Synthetic Biology Centre. 

NBIC will collaborate with a network of over 50 commercial partners from different sectors ranging from SMEs to large companies to exploit the UK’s global leadership in biofilms. The centre’s inclusive model means that other universities and companies conducting biofilm research can participate and benefit from partnership with the NBIC consortium. 

Editor’s Notes: 

1. Details of the BBSRC and Innovate UK-funded Innovation and Knowledge Centre can be found at: 

2. List of partners – all universities and companies to date:

Core-lead Universities:                       Co-ordinating contact:

University Southampton             Prof  Jeremy Webb, Principal Investigator, Co-Director

University of Nottingham           Prof Miguel Cámara, Co-Director

University of Edinburgh            Prof. Cait McPhee, Co-Director

University of Liverpool              Prof Rasmita Raval, Co-Director 

NBIC partners to date:

University of Birmingham          Dr Jan Kreft

University of Cambridge            Dr Martin Welch, Dr Andrew Grant

Diamond Light Source              Dr Martin Walsh

University of Dundee                Prof. Nicola Stanley-Wall

Hartree Centre                         Alison Kennedy

Imperial College London          Prof Alain Filloux

University of Leeds                   Prof Chris Carr

University of Manchester          Prof. Andrew McBain

Plymouth Marine Laboratory     Dr  Thomas Vance

University of Portsmouth           Dr Maria Salta

Quadram Institute                    Prof Ian Charles

Queen's University Belfast        Prof Brendan Gilmore

Swansea University                  Prof Tom Humphrey, Dr Tom Wilkinson

University of West England       Prof. Darren Reynolds


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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…



Story credits

More information is available from Professor Miguel Cámara University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 951 5036, 

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