Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Biomaterials and tissue engineering

The application of engineering methods to create environments and or materials that promote cell or tissue growth and function, in vitro and in vivo.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on the application of engineering methods to create environments and materials that promote cell or tissue growth and function, in vitro and in vivo.

A significant body of research focuses on biomedical materials with novel chemical, physical or mechanical properties, as well as the use of materials in a wide range of medical applications and interventions. This area has a key role in underpinning the regenerative medicine agenda.

Researchers should focus on emerging challenges associated with biomaterials and tissue engineering, including:

  • generation of curative and customised biomaterials
  • personalised therapy and stratified medicine
  • biocompatibility in medical devices and bioelectronics
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • manufacturing and scale-up of cell therapies.

This research area is highly multidisciplinary, requiring specialised training and leadership development to create and sustain capability. We are working with the community to develop a research culture where:

  • investigators work with relevant industrial stakeholders to accelerate industrial uptake and maximise commercialisation of their research
  • closer links with the manufacturing sector help tackle research challenges in scale-up and reproducibility
  • a clear, collaborative approach with other funders ensures that training and leadership are preserved for academic, clinical and industrial needs.

There is also a focus on co-creation of research projects between researchers, clinicians and other users. By ensuring this relationship, EPSRC investment enables novel research that addresses clinical need, as well as adding to the engineering and physical sciences knowledge base.

We encourage researchers to develop strategic relationships with stakeholders who have the clinical or regulatory expertise necessary for translation of innovative research. To assist this, we encourage use of the Healthcare technologies impact and translation toolkit.

The formation of the Henry Royce Institute has a potential impact on facilities needs. Alignment and integration across the landscape is therefore important – particularly with regard to other advanced materials portfolios.

This research area is also of potential relevance to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s Official Development Assistance funding streams.

Why we're doing it

The Maxwell Review noted the importance of fundamental engineering and physical sciences research in underpinning research in healthcare technologies.

The UK also retains international strength in biomaterials, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering research outputs.

Read the Maxwell Review – The importance of engineering and physical sciences research to health and life sciences.

This research area has a key role in underpinning the regenerative medicine agenda. The Advanced Materials Leadership Council (AMLC) recognises the need to develop novel materials for healthcare.

Capacity has grown to accommodate government drivers for regenerative medicine and advanced materials through the ‘Eight Great Technologies’. It is also necessary to align with the AMLC’s future strategy.

For more information read:

The UK is one of the strongest countries in terms of research outputs in the field of regenerative medicine.

In 2013, UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP) funding established five interdisciplinary hubs, bridging the gaps between engineering, medicine and biology.

Medical device innovation

Biomaterials technologies support the growth of medical device innovation and commercialisation. This research area provides a high value science and engineering base for the manufacturing industry, whose products will deliver socio-economic impact by treating the UK’s ageing population.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult provides a vehicle for translating emerging technologies.

Links with other research areas

Biomaterials and tissue engineering link with a number of other research themes and areas.

The strongest connections are with:

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Biomaterials and tissue engineering.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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