Our Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform is positioning Australia to play a role in one of the fastest growing areas of modern science with a wealth of potential for developments in healthcare, industrial biotechnology, agriculture and food research and beyond.

The challenge

Entering new territory

Synthetic Biology (SynBio): the design and construction of biological parts, devices, and organisms, usually based on DNA-encoded componentry; and their application for useful purposes.

The ability to design and fabricate biological systems has been enhanced over the past decade with significant advances in science and technologies in all of the fields involved in SynBio.

SynBio is an emerging, transformative and interdisciplinary field representing the convergence of diverse domains, including; biotechnology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, systems biology, physics, chemistry, computer engineering and informatics, electrical engineering and genetic engineering.

It involves modelling, writing and printing DNA code for designing and fabricating new biological parts, devices, systems, and machines, as well as re-designing existing natural biological systems.

In Australia, there are a number of research and development projects in the design or implementation phase across agricultural, industrial and environmental applications, however, we have been lacking a central resource to coordinate and foster research in the field.

Our response

A coordinated approach

CSIRO is investing in the creation of a Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP), one of six new FSPs which will underpin innovation in health and biology, resources, agriculture and manufacturing, and have the potential to support the reinvention and creation of new industries and new jobs for Australia. Not only will the FSPs invest in research and delivery of solutions, they're also an investment in the next crop of researchers.

CSIRO is uniquely positioned to enable the development of a cohesive and integrated SynBio research ecosystem.

CSIRO has established an initial partnership with the University of Queensland and Macquarie University, two key organisations with established track records in SynBio. The partnership is focussed on cross-disciplinary expertise that is able to offer biological solutions to industry for increased efficiency, sustainability, and novel products.

We are looking to build collaborations with other institutions to expand the SynBio FSP's capability and allow Australia to fully capitalise on the rapid growth of Synthetic Biology globally, currently worth approximately $3 billion and expected to rise to approximately $40 billion by 2020*.

Future Science Platform

The SynBio FSP aims to:

  1. Build the foundational capabilities to advance Synthetic Biology research, including significant investment in social licence to operate
  2. Drive national coordination by making these foundational capabilities widely available to the broad research community, governments, and industry for the development of novel industrial products, pharma, biocontrol agents, and strategies for building ecosystem resilience to environmental change, and
  3. Build strong partnerships, collaborations, and connections across the innovation sector to develop these novel products and applications responsibly.

The SynBio FSP will work with its partner organisations, including Synthetic Biology Australasia, to help build a collaborative Australia-wide community of practice in synthetic biology.

* A 2013 Allied Market Research Report valued the Global SynBio market at $3 billion which is estimated to rise to approximately $40 billion by 2020.

Interested in helping us further this research?

We seek research collaborators with complementary skills so we can work together for stronger results.

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