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Centre for Enzyme Innovation

Organisational unit: Research Centre

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At the Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we are researching solutions to some of the most pressing global environmental problems. Learning from the natural world, we are working to deliver transformative enzyme-enabled solutions for the circular recycling of plastics. 

Following a £5.8 million award from the Research England Expanding Excellence Fund in 2019, and a £1m award from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership in 2020, we are creating new state-of-the-art facilities and recruiting specialist researchers from across the world to join our team.

We currently have 30 scientists covering a wide range of disciplines including microbiology, molecular biophysics, biochemistry, enzyme engineering and synthetic biology, biotechnology, and more recently, polymer chemistry.  Hosted in our new custom laboratories, we have the expertise and facilities required to help tackle the challenge of plastic pollution and develop enzyme-based low energy, low carbon, biorecycling solutions.

Our research sits at the interface between enzymes and polymers with a focus on both pure and applied research biocatalysis.  We are expanding our research and innovation activities to address the diverse range of plastics, including mixed waste streams and composites, materials that are often incinerated or end up in landfill and leak to the environment. 

Our research is divided into 4 areas:

  • Discover new enzymes from the environment that break down plastics

  • Engineer these enzymes to enhance their activity, stability and yield

  • Deploy enzymes by pilot scale fermentation and industry-ready formulations

  • Apply these enzymes in proof-of-concept biorecycling and upcycling processes

Our researchers from the Centre for Enzyme Innovation receive funding from a wide range of external sources, including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the National Environment Research Council (NERC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the European Commission, Innovate UK, Diamond Light Source, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Johnson Matthey.

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