Flying the flag for UK biotechnology

22 January 2013

A potato-based and fully biodegradable Union Jack flag will oversee proceedings today as the UK’s largest showcase of industrial biotechnology, Leading IB: A UK Showcase, opens in Westminster.

Manufactured by Biome Bioplastics, the flag was commissioned by Chemistry Innovation and Bioscience Knowledge Transfer Networks as an example of the innovative bio-based materials and products being developed in this country.

With rising oil prices and pressing environmental concerns, attention is increasingly turning to viable natural alternatives to conventional product materials. CEO Paul Mines explained:

Modern bioplastics can already be used in a wide range of sometimes-surprising applications, the flag is just one example, but with emerging technologies we can take this even further. For example, Biome Bioplastics is currently exploring opportunities for the manufacture of bio-based materials through the use of synthetic biology, an area which offers exciting commercial and technical possibilities.

To highlight the potential of bio-based materials, Chemistry Innovation and Biosciences Knowledge Transfer Networks have also commissioned a short film illustrating the production of the flag. The film follows the unusual journey of a rejected potato as it braves sorting, starch factory, plasticisation and printers before flying proudly over the London skyline.

The film will be screened for the first time at the event following a programme of speakers introduced by the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Michael Fallon, and featuring business leaders, technology providers, investors, leading academics and policy makers. The programme concludes tomorrow with closing remarks from David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science.