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Bactobio Spotlight: Celebrating four years of innovation

20 May 2024

Celebrating Bactobio

This May marks a significant milestone—Bactobio’s fourth anniversary. From its inception with just two visionaries around a makeshift coffee table, Bactobio has grown into a team of 48 professionals working in state-of-the-art office and lab spaces. As we continue to expand, we aim to boost collaboration and foster innovation, all under the backdrop of the London skyline. Our collective vision of developing novel solutions for major global issues illustrates our commitment to the core values that drive us: impact, collaboration, and empowerment.

Empowering Through Expansion

Over these four years, Bactobio has seen remarkable growth from a small team of four to 48 dedicated scientists, researchers, and operations staff. The past year has been pivotal; we doubled our team size, welcoming leaders such as Dr. Susan Joseph, Dr. Stephanie Diezmann, and Bob Renwick, who have brought new expertise and leadership in platform management, screening, and software development. Now, with over 30 PhD holders, our team’s diversity fuels our groundbreaking projects, reflecting our expanding capabilities and influence within the biotech industry.

Bactobio's third birthday celebration on the balcony—sunshine, smiles, and a shared vision for innovation.

Scientific Milestones

A highlight of this past year has been our in-planta trials targeting Zymoseptoria tritici, the most devastating foliar wheat disease in the UK. These trials demonstrated our platform’s efficacy in identifying bio-derived compounds. They provided a foundation to propel us towards in-depth R&D to enhance our compounds' safety and efficacy profiles—a significant milestone towards leveraging microbial biodiversity to enhance crop health and resilience.

The in-planta trials were carried out at the Rothamsted Centre in partnership with Agritech to evaluate the efficacy of our isolated compounds.

Revolutionising Through Automation

Over the past year, Bactobio enhanced R&D efficiency through automation and integrating more streamlined workflows using dedicated software and in-house-built tools. We integrated advanced equipment like liquid handlers and flow cytometers to increase our throughput and accuracy and brought in a 3D printer to rapidly produce custom labware. These innovations have not only increased our media screening throughput but also significantly improved our operational efficiency.

Beyond equipment, the synergy among our interdisciplinary teams—spanning chemistry, microbiology, software development, and bioinformatics—has been pivotal. Together, we've enhanced our screening processes, handled over 2,800 samples with our bioactivity-guided in-house assays, and enriched our microbial library.

A Robust Grants Pipeline

Our grant acquisition efforts were also particularly successful. We concluded two Farming Innovation Programme grants with Agritech (previously Crop Health and Protection) and secured significant funding from Innovate UK, contributing to our total non-dilutive funding of £4.1 million. The support from Innovate UK has been crucial in expanding our research, initiating essential assays, and enabling partnerships with external collaborators. Thanks to this backing, we've accelerated our quest for novel antibiotics and fungicides, aimed to target unculturable microbes, and established significant milestones for both Bactobio and the UK biotech sector.

Looking Ahead

As we celebrate this fourth-year milestone, we look forward to the future with optimism and determination. The road ahead is filled with opportunities to further our research, deepen our impact, and continue making strides in the biotech sector, all while staying true to the values that have brought us this far.

Bactobio's story is one of rapid growth, significant scientific achievements, and unwavering dedication to our founding values. As we step into the next year, our commitment to these values remains strong, guiding us as we strive to contribute even more profoundly to global health and sustainability.

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