Led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the U.K. Research Councils will award £10 million (approximately $16.64 million) to establish five centers for DNA synthesis across the U.K. to further develop the country’s research base in synthetic biology.

In addition, £2 million ($3.33 million) will provide equipment to enhance student training in DNA synthesis at BBSRC and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), which provides training environments for students of synthetic biology.

According to BBSRC, the new academic centers will aim to bring together academic and embryonic synthetic biology companies, contributing to the U.K.'s growing synthetic biology industry to help create jobs and drive economic growth. The centers will be in Edinburgh, London, Liverpool, Norwich, and Cambridge.

The CDTs, based at University College London and a consortium between the universities of Bristol, Oxford, and Warwick will offer doctoral students the chance to learn in specialist synthetic biology facilities.

“These new investments will help the UK develop as a leader in synthetic biology and make advances in a wide range of fields, such as agriculture, renewable materials, biofuels and medicines, while at the same time reducing our reliance on finite resources, such as petrochemicals,” said Melanie Welham, BBSRC executive director of science. “Nature's toolbox already produces many useful industrial chemicals and medicines and synthetic biology offers the opportunity to redesign these tools for useful purposes.”

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