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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Invention to commercialisation

The Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology has long recognised the need for a greater level of commercialisation of public and charity funded research, as well as for educational programmes focused on instilling the enterprise mindset in future generations.

We are an active collaborative partner for joint research with industry and also recognise that impact can arise from our fundamental research in processes, healthcare and materials, via different routes and pathways. We therefore focus our efforts on building:

  • Industrial links via consultancy, studentships, contracts and longer term research programmes, which can lead to improved processes, thereby enhancing productivity, competitiveness and wealth creation
  • Entrepreneurship and supporting the creation of spin-outs, with a particular focus on inclusive innovation, and social and ethical entrepreneurship
  • Clinical relationships resulting from a combination of entrepreneurial and collaborative activities

A track record for tech transfer

We have a strong record in facilitating technology transfer from our research platforms to the marketplace: in the last decade, the Institute of Biotechnology alone has filed around 100 patent applications, established nine successful spin-off companies and have been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its 21st century vision for bio-entrepreneurship.

Industry links

We welcome enquiries from industry, and others, about possible collaborations to tackle particular problems or research areas, whether these are suited to a short consultancy, a small experimental programme or to a longer term study requiring a major research effort. Our staff members are always willing to form multi-disciplinary teams, with the relevant skills, which can be brought to bear on the problem of interest.

Many organisations have found that a partnership with the Department is the most effective way to help improve their scientific skills or understanding of specialist processes, to develop and test ideas for new products and manufacturing techniques, or to optimise, modernise and enhance existing systems.

We offer flexible funding, intellectual property ownership, timing, personnel and management options to suit our client companies. Projects can either be funded directly, or a range of options exist whereby industrial effort, in cash or kind, is substantially leveraged by public funding. We also have the ability to locate and consult other experts within the University of Cambridge or elsewhere in academia, as needed.

Industrial collaboration has been an enduring strength of CEB, with ongoing partnerships with blue-chip companies including Schlumberger Gould Research, ExxonMobil, BP, BorgWarner, BASF, Boeing, Bayer and AstraZeneca. The Department has a long and distinguished record of developing innovative new science and its applications via industrial secondments, international outreach and influence, independent entrepreneurs, new lecturers with industrial experience and major University-wide partnerships, including for example with Nokia, Unilever, BP, Schlumberger, TATA and Boeing.

We are keenly aware of the need to manage projects carefully, so as to ensure that agreed objectives are achieved within the time and cost specified and the required reporting arrangements at specified milestones are satisfactory. We agree safeguards with regard to the handling of confidential information and we manage the ownership of intellectual property from the outset of projects.

Innovation Centre in Digital Molecular Technologies

We have close links with the Innovation Centre in Digital Molecular Technologies, an open innovation research centre co-funded by the University, AstraZeneca, Shionogi and the European Regional Development Fund. The iDMT is an incubator supporting UK SMEs in the transformation of chemistry into the digital domain. It is directed by our Professor of Sustainable Reaction Engineering - Professor Alexei Lapkin - and involves a number of our researchers, working on collaborative projects that link SMEs with academia and large companies to exploit the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning in molecular sciences, technologies and products.

Wider University enterprise support:

Latest news

CEB hosts chocolate-themed Sutton Trust summer school in collaboration with Nestlé  

4 October 2022

CEB recently hosted the first in-person Sutton Trust summer school back in August with an aim to engage young students with chemical engineering and biotechnology.

Organic ‘e-transmembrane’ device paves way for next-generation drug discovery

23 September 2022

Researchers in our Bioelectronic Systems Technology Group have developed a bioelectronic platform to grow and monitor 3D cell cultures in real-time, that can be used to deliver more predictive, high throughput drug screening assays.

Outreach at CEB: casting the net wider

12 September 2022

We have been increasing our activities targeting local, national and international schools to raise the profile of STEM subjects and encourage young students to study chemical engineering and biotechnology at Cambridge.