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National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC)


Biofilms are the prevalent form of microbial life and drive the dynamics, activity and function of microbial communities and microbiomes underpinning all ecosystems.

They impact on major global challenges including climate change, safe and secure water and food, human and animal health, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Biofilms are structured communities of microbial cells, embedded within a self-produced ‘matrixome’ of extracellular polymers and other biomolecules. They complex and dynamic, have a physical 3-dimensional and aggregated architecture, and may contain many species and genotypes evolving and interacting with each other and with their environment. The total economic impact of biofilms has recently been estimated to be almost $4 trillion globally.

The National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) is an Innovation Knowledge Centre (IKC) jointly funded by the BBSRC and Innovate UK. By bringing together the UK's strength in biofilm research, and combining it with the expertise of industrialists, NBIC aims to deliver breakthrough technologies that will have an impact on day-to-day lives.

Led by the University of Southampton, in partnership with the Universities of Liverpool, Nottingham and Edinburgh, the National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) is a consortium of 63 academic partner institutions across the UK – it is the central hub where academia, industry, government and public policy come together to tackle the grand challenges biofilms present. NBIC’s mission is to establish a network of research and innovation capacity to catalyse partnerships with industry to achieve breakthrough innovations and impact. 

The University of Southampton hosts the largest grouping of biofilm academics in the UK and is unique in its ability to consider biofilms in an integrated way across a range of research areas. These include biological sciences, medicine, chemistry, computational modelling, engineering and ocean science creating impact across diverse fields of application, from medicine to industry to the environment.

As part of the Institute for Life Sciences, our projects range in scale and fields of application, but explore topics like:

  • the molecular ecology and generic make-up of biofilms
  • how biofilms interact within different environments
  • developing new therapies that will overcome antibiotic tolerance caused by biofilms
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