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About PBL

Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL) is an independent technology management company specialising in plant, food and microbial science. Our services are available to any researcher or research organisation that is seeking assistance and advice with protecting and commercialising new technology. Although we bring a great deal of expert knowledge, we are not "consultants" but exist to take on management of IP and technology development, working closely wherever appropriate with the originating scientists. We do not charge fees for our services (indeed we bring our own funds to invest in patents and technology development) and instead we share revenues generated from commercialisation of technologies that we handle. 

Our unique and professional team has a range of qualifications and experience in technology business and patent management coupled with over 40 years of research experience in the plant and microbial science areas. This enables us to talk science with the scientists and business with our commercial partners. Having our own in-house patent attorney enables us to gain efficiencies at the interface between patent agent and inventor and to keep up to date with the latest developments in bioscience patenting. 

As well as adding value through our specialist patent management and business skills, we have a large existing portfolio of technology which often can be combined with new technologies offered to us so as to add considerable value to the overall package.

Services Provided for Public Sector Researchers

PBL welcomes approaches from any scientist or industrial liaison office, from any organisation, who is interested in our services. Please click the boxes on the chart below for further information. To print the diagram and associated text, please click here.


Identification of Technology Opportunities

PBL aims to identify existing and emerging intellectual property and materials at an early stage of development. Upon identification of a technology opportunity, it is reviewed with the inventor-scientist(s) to identify potential applications. Subsequently we undertake a preliminary analysis of the technical and commercial feasibility of the development and exploitation of the technology. If the outcome of this first evaluation is positive then PBL will work with the inventor-scientist(s) and his/her organisation to consider adopting the technology for protection, marketing and commercialisation.

Enhancement, Protection and Development of Technology

In most cases, significant additional efforts and investment are required to develop technologies generated at academic research institutes before they can be commercially exploited by industry. PBL works closely with inventor-scientists to ensure technology is at the optimal stage for transfer to industry. In order to provide an adequate return on such investments PBL seeks to protect the technologies with promising commercial potential. Where possible the preferred form of protection is in the form of registering for patent rights but other forms of intellectual property rights or legal protection will be employed when deemed appropriate and effective. PBL has in-house patent experts and the costs of IP protection are either borne by PBL or may be shared with the relevant source organisation. PBL can also fund critical work to develop technology to the point that commercial uptake is more likely, under PBL's Technology Development Project scheme. Such investment would not fund further exploratory work, but could for example pay for further demonstration of robustness and utility of a new invention, or for generating value-adding data outside the capability of the inventing organisation.

Commercialisation Strategy

PBL has on its staff technology managers who have sound scientific backgrounds in a range of life science disciplines and with extensive business experience gained from working in the biotechnology industry. We can assess market opportunities and values and develop an appropriate commercialisation strategy for each technology. This may take the form of starting up a new venture, or licensing the technology to an established company.


Licensing a technology is a well-established route in the commercialisation process, and is an area where PBL has an excellent record. PBL has an established international network of business contacts and this, combined with the existing industrial links of inventor-scientists, enables active, targeted marketing of the technology portfolio. When licensing, PBL aims to find as many partners/licensees as necessary to achieve rapid deployment of an invention in each major market, and in as many applications as possible. Partners/licensees must have the technical and commercial capability to bring licensed technology to market, as well as being able to secure appropriate freedom-to-operate and regulatory approvals as required.
We are flexible and pragmatic in structuring agreements with industry to provide a strong incentive to evaluate, develop and exploit the licensed technology and at the same time provide revenue to finance its operations and provide a return to its shareholders and licensors.
Exclusive rights to exploit technologies developed with complete or partial public, charitable or institutional funding will only be granted where the licensee is willing to commit to timely evaluation and diligent commercial development and exploitation of the technology in accordance with an agreed plan specifying milestones and time-lines.

Business Development

PBL can help with the formation of start up companies, and in addition our wide range of technologies may offer the opportunity of bundling technologies together to improve the overall technology package. We have experience of this start-up process and have the contacts with the organisations that are essential to make it happen. We also help manage the Norwich Bio-Incubator, an incubator facility for new bioscience businesses, which opened in 2002. This gives us easy access to high quality facilities in the thriving Norwich Research Park. Novacta Biosystems Limited is an anti-infectives discovery and biotransformations service company established by PBL that has already graduated successfully from the Norwich Bio-Incubator.

PBL already works with the universities and research institutes listed below. We are keen to evaluate potential IP from researchers to add to our existing portfolio of technologies and are happy to talk on a confidential basis on all matters relating to IP. Please contact us for further information or visit our Inventors Information section. 

John Innes Centre, UK 
Sainsbury Laboratory, UK 
Institute of Food Research, UK 
Rothamsted Research, UK 
Babraham Institute, UK 
IBERS, Aberystwyth, UK 
University of Birmingham, UK 
University of East Anglia, UK 
University of Essex, UK 
Lancaster University, UK 
University of Leicester, UK 
University of Warwick, UK

KU Leuven, Belgium 
VIB, Gent, Belgium 
University of Aarhus, Denmark 
University of Copenhagen, Denmark 
Joint Biotechnology Laboratory, Finland 
INRA, France 
CSIC, Spain 
Universidad de Murcia, Spain 
Universidad de Sevilla, Spain 
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain 
Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain

CONICET, Argentina 
UNL, Santa Fe, Argentina 
UNLP, La Plata, Argentina 
UNR, Rosario, Argentina 
EMBRAPA, Brazil 
North Carolina State University, USA 
Stanford University, USA 
Texas A&M University, USA 
University of Wyoming, USA 
Virginia Tech, USA 
Yale University, USA

All proceeds generated by the Company's licensing and business development activities are distributed according to a revenue sharing scheme agreed with licensor institutes. This includes payment to the inventor-scientists who have made a significant contribution to the discovery, development and protection of the technology.



PBL's mission is to promote commercial development and exploitation of academic research results for public use and benefit while generating income to finance its operations, and to support the research at the Institutes and Universities that provide intellectual property to the Company.



PBL was established in 1994 by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the John Innes Centre. An independently managed commercial (for-profit) company, our original operational activities centered on protecting and commercialising plant and microbial science IP from our two founder institutes, but since 1997, with support under two DTI Biotechnology Exploitation Platform (BEP) award, the UK Plant Science Platform and the UK MicroBEP - PBL expanded to manage IP from other research laboratories at academic Institutions and Universities in the UK. By 2002 PBL had become established as the leading independent IP management and technology transfer company managing a broad portfolio of life sciences, with particular strengths in plants and microbial science. We handle technology emerging from many laboratories across UK and indeed worldwide. In 2004, the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), the UK's major funder of plant and microbial science, became a shareholder in PBL, endorsing the company's position as a key channel for new biotechnologies emerging from public funding. Also in 2004, PBL was awarded £1.8m from the UK Government's Department of Trade and Industry which has enabled PBL to begin a programme to invest funds directly to enhance the development status of emerging technology.


Humanitarian Use Policy

To the extent that it is able, PBL will consider requests for accessing PBL proprietary technologies for bona fide humanitarian use purposes. Humanitarian use purposes shall mean not-for-profit and non-commercial activity conducted for the public good and to the benefit of sections of the general public anywhere in the world in need of particular assistance, and in circumstances where it would likely be unviable to conduct such an activity on a commercial for-profit basis.

PBL's policy when licensing rights to its technology for commercial exploitation purposes, is as far as practicable to retain the right to grant humanitarian use licences, and expects its commercial licensing partners to understand and cooperate with this policy.

PBL is an Affiliated Institution of PIPRA and supports PIPRA’s mission to address intellectual property issues in the public sector and promote the research, development, and distribution of agricultural technologies intended to increase food security and reduce poverty in developing countries.


Associated Organisations

Sathguru Management Consultants

PBL partners with Sathguru Management Consultants as a strategic technology management partner to facilitate the transfer of PBL technologies to South and South East Asia. Sathguru is India’s leading multi disciplinary consulting firm engaged in domestic and international intellectual property and technology management advisory services.

For more information, please go to www.sathguru.com.

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