About Us

Our mission is to promote commercial development and exploitation of academic research results for public use and benefit. In doing so PBL Technology generates income both to finance its operations and to support the research at the Institutes and Universities that provide intellectual property to the Company.

PBL Technology invests in, protects and promotes emerging innovations from public research sources worldwide - turning ideas into patented, scientifically validated and licensable technologies. PBL establishes intellectual property protection, guides development through the proof-of-concept and prototype stage and licenses onwards to a wide variety of industry sectors. Our interests cover Agriculture, Food & Nutrition, Microbiology, Biotechnology and related Life Science industries. We market our technologies internationally and have regular contact with a very wide range of industrial customers, licensees and development partners.

PBL specialises 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 fee-for-service "consultants" but instead we take on the costs and responsibility for filing and management of patents and for bringing about the commercial uptake of technology, 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, on occasions, in technology development) and instead we share revenues generated from commercialisation of technologies that we handle.

PBL was formed in 1995, and is now jointly and equally owned by the John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory and the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation).

Our unique and professional team has a range of qualifications and experience in all aspects of technology transfer coupled with experience of working both in industry and in public research. This enables us to talk science with the scientists and business with our commercial partners. Having an established panel of external patent attorneys, from leading international IP law firms, enables us to gain efficiencies at the interface between patent agent and inventor and to keep up to date with the latest developments in global bioscience patenting.

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


PBL was established in 1994 by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which had recently established The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, and the John Innes Centre. An independently managed commercial (for-profit) company, our original operational activities centred on delivering patenting and related technology transfer activities to the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory, something we still do to this day.   Realising that other organisations could benefit from our services, and that academic innovations often involved inventors at more than one research organisation, PBL soon expanded to manage innovations from other research laboratories at academic Institutions and Universities in the UK and further afield. In 2004, the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation), 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.

PBL has handled almost 700 innovations from over 80 different universities/institutes in 14 different countries in 5 continents.  Although the attrition rate for early stage technology is inevitably high, PBL has brought about the commercialisation of many products and processes ranging from the world’s first nutritionally improved fresh vegetable, Beneforte ™ Broccoli, to the underlying technology contained a whole new class of therapeutic drugs based on siRNA.  However, we are also proud of the fact that we are very successful in achieving some form of industry trialling of most of the technologies we handle. Indeed, generating some form of revenues from over 40% of our patented technologies, PBL’s success is extremely high when benchmarked against other public sector organisations – reflecting our specialist judgement of early stage technology and our intimate knowledge of the varied and evolving needs of our industrial partners. 

Norwich Research Park

PBL is based on the Norwich Research Park.  The Norwich Research Park, set in over 230 hectares of parkland, is thriving community of over 115 businesses, 12,000 employees and 3,000 scientists.  With exceptional research laboratories and state-of-the art offices as well as an enviable quality of life.  It is an international centre of excellence in healthy ageing, food and energy security, sustainability and environmental change with world-class expertise in the research and development pipeline in plant and microbial sciences, genetics and genomics, climate and geo-sciences and food, health and human nutrition.


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