IP-Driven Clean Technology – National Vision for Engineering Biology

National Vision for Engineering Biology

The UK government has recently positioned clean technology at the core of its new initiative, the “National Vision for Engineering Biology,” launched in December 2023. With a substantial £2 billion investment, this policy highlights the government’s dedication to driving sustainable innovation. The funding aims to advance research and development in areas such as renewable biofuels, biodegradable materials, and enhanced agricultural products, contributing to environmental sustainability and resource efficiency.

Acknowledging the key role of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in spurring innovation, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic entrepreneurs, the government is promoting best practices in IP licensing. This strategy ensures that inventions originating from academic research are protected and commercialised, fostering a culture of innovation.


Advancement in fuels

In the “National Vision for Engineering Biology,” the development of fuels is a key area for developing the UK’s engineering biology community. The focus on new low carbon fuel sources, particularly biofuels, underscores their potential in addressing climate change and reducing dependence on crude oil.

In the context of algae-based biofuel production, challenges such as the efficient extraction of lipids for biodiesel are being addressed through innovative methods. Innovations aimed at developing algal strains capable of external lipid secretion could revolutionise biofuel production by making the process more sustainable and efficient. (Source)

The UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) was set up to encourage the use of sustainable biofuels in road transport, leading to significant growth in the biofuels industry. By 2022, biomass, including biofuels, contributed to 8.6% of the UK’s energy supply. Efforts to improve the efficiency and scalability of biofuels production are critical, with the government facilitating research into advanced harvesting techniques and the genetic engineering of biofuel-producing organisms. (Source: 1 | 2)


Transforming Waste into Aviation Fuel

Another significant area under the initiative is transforming waste into aviation fuel. The aviation industry, known for its substantial carbon footprint, is seeing transformative developments with the UK government’s push towards sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Investments in facilities like LanzaTech UK’s in Port Talbot, which converts steel mill off-gases into ethanol for jet fuel illustrate the practical applications of SAF derived from alternative sources.

Additionally, the government has shortlisted eight companies to share £15 million in funding for developing plants that convert various waste sources into jet fuel, marking a step towards upscaling SAF manufacturing and potentially saving up to 23 megatons of CO2 per year by 2050. (Source)


IP: A Cornerstone of Green Innovation and Collaborative Development

The emphasis on IP rights protection as a cornerstone for green innovation is clear. Government support, especially from the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has been instrumental in nurturing innovation within these areas. This is exemplified by the partnership between Cranfield University and British Airways, which focuses on advancing waste-to-fuel technology. It is important in these collaborations that both the companies and research bodies focus on their IP strategies, ensuring that the innovations are not only protected but also poised for commercial success.

Investors, recognising the potential in areas like waste-to-jet-fuel technology, are making their funding decisions based on strong IP portfolios. Companies such as Altalto are utilising trade marks and branding to position themselves as leaders in sustainable aviation fuel production.(Source)

By promoting effective IP licensing strategies and protecting innovations through IP rights, the initiative enables a smoother transition of technologies from research labs to the marketplace. This approach ensures that the UK stays at the forefront of clean technology innovation, ready to meet the challenges of sustainability and environmental preservation head-on.


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If you would like to safeguard your invention or brand, please contact Lucy O’Brien or another member of the Cleantech team for an initial discussion.

Category: Latest Insights | Author: Lucy O'Brien | Published: | Read more