Responsible Innovation: Industrial Biotechnology and Engineering Biology

25/01/2021 - 25/01/2021

Online Event

An online event hosted by the Carbon Recycling Network, the Nottingham BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre, and the ENGICOIN project, in collaboration with the Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham.

10:30-14:00 GMT, Monday 25 January 2021

This open, online event brought together the BBSRC Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, the wider synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology and responsible innovation communities, and eminent speakers from across disciplines and sectors to explore current developments, challenges and opportunities for responsible innovation in industrial biotechnology and engineering biology. Anyone with an interest in biotechnology, synthetic biology and the important role responsible innovation might play in their future development was welcome to attend!

Responsible innovation, also known as responsible research and innovation (RRI), has rapidly become an important mode of research and innovation governance and practice, aiming to more closely align science and technology with societal and environmental values, needs and priorities. Research funders in the UK, the EU and beyond increasingly require that research and innovation projects, training programmes and institutions include RRI in their activities. RRI is also becoming an important governance framework in private sector contexts. Meanwhile, changes are underway in synthetic biology governance, funding and research in the UK, the US and beyond, including an ongoing shift towards engineering biology.

This event introduced RRI and related ideas and practices in industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology, and considered the transition towards engineering biology, exploring future prospects for these fields.

The event received a fantastic response, with 315 registrations from 27 countries across six continents. On the day, 225 participants from 19 countries across five continents joined the event. Sectors represented included research and higher education; business and industry; policy, government (including agencies), regulation and science diplomacy; research funding; Research and Technology Organisations; and civil society. Participants spanned a wide range of career stages, job roles, disciplines and areas of expertise.

Read a review of the event by Jonathan Hankins (Fondazione Giannino Bassetti) here.

Programme and presentations

Download Event Pack (includes programme and speaker biographies) here.

Speakers’ presentation slides (.pdf versions) can be downloaded via the hyperlinks below:

Part 1: Responsible Research and Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology
Time (GMT)Speaker Topic
10:25-10:30Joining time
10:30-10:32Nigel Minton, Synthetic Biology Research Centre, University of NottinghamWelcome & opening words
10:32-10:50NIBB Directors:

–    Saul Purton, Algae-UK

–    Simon McQueen Mason, BBNet

–    Nigel Minton, Carbon Recycling Network

–    Nigel Robinson, E3B

–    Sonia Heaven, EBNet

–    Ian Graham, HVB

Introduction to BBSRC Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy

– Algae-UK: Exploiting the algal treasure trove

– BBNet: Biomass Biorefinery Network

– Carbon Recycling Network: Converting waste derived GHG into                chemicals, fuels and animal feed

– E3B: Elements of Bioremediation, Biomanufacturing & Bioenergy:            Metals in Biology

– EBNet: Environmental Biotechnology Network

–  HVB: High Value Biorenewables Network

10:50-11:05Phil Macnaghten, Professor in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen UniversityResponsible Innovation: Translating Research Policy into Research Practice





Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, Senior Research Fellow in RRI, SBRC-NottinghamWork to date in Responsible Research & Innovation, Industrial Biotechnology and Synthetic BiologyResponsible Research and Innovation in the Synthetic Biology Research Centre – Nottingham
Lotte Asveld, Assistant Professor in Biotechnology and Society, TU DelftResponsible Innovation for synbio companies: lessons learned
Joyce Tait, Founding Director of Innogen, University of EdinburghHelping Companies to Innovate Responsibly
Neil Parry, R&D Programme Director, Biotechnology and Biosourcing, UnileverUnilever “Clean Futures” and sustainable sourcing of ingredients through Biotechnology
11:45-12:00Q&A / discussionQ&A / discussion
12:00-12:30 Lunch break
Part 2: Futures of Engineering Biology and Responsible Innovation 
Time Speaker Topic
12:30-12:32Dimitris Papadopoulos, Institute for Science and Society, University of NottinghamWelcome back
12:32-12:42Rowan McKibbin, Associate Director: Frontiers and Foundations, BBSRCBackground and information on the National Engineering Biology Programme
12:42-12:52Lionel Clarke, Co-Chair of the Engineering Biology Leadership CouncilThe EBLC perspective on the transition from Synthetic Biology to Engineering Biology
13:00-13:35Susan Molyneux-Hodgson, Professor of Sociology, University of ExeterThoughts on the transition from Synthetic Biology to Engineering Biology, and provocations on future possibilities for Engineering Biology, Industrial Biotechnology and Responsible Innovation:




– Susan Molyneux-Hodgson


– Nigel Minton


Nigel Minton, Director, SBRC-Nottingham
Sean Simpson, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, LanzaTech
Megan J. Palmer, Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives, Stanford University
13:35-13:57Open discussion


13:57-14:00Eleanor Hadley Kershaw and Dimitris PapadopoulosClosing words