Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Formation1994 (from merger of 2 other organisations)
TypeNon-departmental public body
PurposeFunding of UK biological and biotechnological science research
HeadquartersPolaris House,
North Star Avenue,
Region served
United Kingdom
Sir Gordon Duff
Melanie Welham
Main organ
BBSRC Council
Parent organisation
AffiliationsAHRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, STFC, Innovate UK, Research England, UKSA
c. £498M

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), and is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience. It predominantly funds scientific research institutes and university research departments in the UK.


Receiving its funding through the science budget of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), BBSRC's mission is to "promote and support, by any means, high-quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training relating to the understanding and exploitation of biological systems".[1]


BBSRC's head office is at Polaris House [2] in Swindon - the same building as the other councils of UK Research and Innovation, AHRC EPSRC, ESRC, Innovate UK, MRC, NERC, Research England and STFC, as well as the UKSA. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £498 million in bioscience in 2017–18. BBSRC also manages the joint Research Councils' Office in Brussels – the UK Research Office (UKRO).


BBSRC was created in 1994, merging the former Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC) and taking over the biological science activities of the former Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC).[3]


Chief executives

Executive chairs

  • Prof Melanie Welham FRSB (2018–present)[5]

Governance and management[edit]

BBSRC is managed by the BBSRC Council consisting of a chair (from 2015, Professor Sir Gordon Duff), an executive chair (Professor Melanie Welham) and from ten to eighteen representatives from UK universities, government and industry. The council approves policies, strategy, budgets and major funding.

A research panel provides expert advice which BBSRC Council draws upon in making decisions. The purpose of the research panel is to advise on:

  • the development and implementation of the council's strategic plans
  • the competitiveness, relevance, economic impact, and societal considerations of the science and innovation activities funded by BBSRC
  • opportunities for partnership with national and international organisations

Boards, panels and committees[edit]

In addition to the council and the research panel, BBSRC has a series of other internal bodies for specific purposes.

  • Appointments Board
  • Remuneration Board
  • Strategy Advisory Panels - eight panels advise and report to the BBSRC Executive Chair
  • Research Committees - five committees award research grants in specific science areas

Institutes of BBSRC[edit]

The council strategically funds eight research institutes in the UK, and a number of centres (BBSRC: Institutes and centres).

They have strong links with business, industry and the wider community, and support policy development.[citation needed]

The institutes' research underpins key sectors of the UK economy such as agriculture, bioenergy, biotechnology, food and drink and pharmaceuticals. In addition, the institutes maintain unique research facilities of national importance.

Other research institutes have merged with each other or with local universities. Previous BBSRC (or AFRC) sponsored institutes include:


  1. ^ BBSRC mission
  2. ^ "Google Maps".
  3. ^ a b c "Our mission and history". BBSRC. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  4. ^ Tom Blundell (2014). Annual Report and Accounts 2013-2014. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. p. 2.
  5. ^ "26 March 2018 - Professor Melanie Welham selected for the role of Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council - BBSRC". Retrieved 3 December 2018.