Plastics bottles - Centre for Enzyme Innovation

The Centre for Enzyme Innovation

Explore how our pioneering research is helping to solve one of the planet's most-pressing environmental problems

At the Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we're researching solutions to some of the most pressing global environmental problems.

Learning from the natural world, we are working to deliver transformative enzyme-enabled solutions for the circular recycling of plastics.

Following a £5.8 million award from the Research England Expanding Excellence Fund in 2019, and a £1m award from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership in 2020 through the HM Government Getting Building Fund, we're creating new state-of-the-art facilities and recruiting specialist researchers from across the world to join our team.

News from the CEI

Our research

We currently have 30 scientists covering a wide range of disciplines including microbiology, molecular biophysics, biochemistry, enzyme engineering and synthetic biology, biotechnology, and more recently, polymer chemistry.

Hosted in our new custom laboratories, we have the expertise and facilities required to help tackle the challenge of plastic pollution and develop enzyme-based low energy, low carbon, biorecycling solutions. 

Our research sits at the interface between enzymes and polymers with a focus on both pure and applied research in biocatalysis.

We are expanding our research and innovation activities to address the diverse range of plastics, including mixed waste streams and composites, materials that are often incinerated or end up in landfill and leak to the environment.

Centre Director

Professor John McGeehan

Operations Director

Professor Andy Pickford

View all staff at the CEI

WATCH | Could bacteria help beat the world’s plastic problem?
Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) director Professor John McGeehan talks about his team's research – and how it can make recycling easier

Our research is divided into 4 areas

  • Discover new enzymes from the environment that break down plastics
  • Engineer these enzymes to enhance their activity, stability and yield
  • Deploy enzymes by pilot scale fermentation and industry-ready formulations
  • Apply these enzymes in proof-of-concept biorecycling and upcycling processes

How we work

The CEI’s unique integrated research and innovation pipeline

The pipeline allows for the streamlined development of enzymes from discovery through to recycling applications.

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Working towards a circular plastics economy

Enzymes break down waste plastic polymers into building blocks that are purified and re-polymerised, allowing infinite recycling of the materials as part of a circular plastics economy.

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Recent research outputs


Researchers from the Centre for Enzyme Innovation receive funding from a wide range of external sources, including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the National Environment Research Council (NERC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the European Commission, Innovate UK, Diamond Light Source, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Johnson Matthey.

Our most recent large funding awards were awarded from the Research England E3 scheme (£5.8m) and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (£1m).


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Contact us

Discover how you can collaborate with the CEI.

If you're a commercial or academic organisation interested in working with us, please contact our Innovation Fellow, Rory Miles.

Centre email and telephone 9284 2023