Institute for Future


13 March 2018

Established chemist and industrial biotechnology researcher Associate Professor Robert Speight has been announced as the new leader for IFE’s Growing the Global Bioeconomy research theme, starting March 2018.

Following on from the work of Professor Roger Hellens who is now the Institute’s Deputy Executive Director, Rob will ensure the theme continues to meet IFE’s strategic goals through fostering transdisciplinary research at QUT.

Since commencing at QUT in 2014, Rob’s research has focused on microbial biotechnology, enzyme engineering and protein production systems for industrial biotechnology applications.  Prior to this, he co-founded and helped build UK biotech company, Ingenza, which provides efficient, scalable bioprocesses for the manufacture of chemicals, biologics, pharmaceuticals and biofuels from sustainable sources.

Rob is currently involved with collaborative transdisciplinary projects around converting waste to value, including how to make sugarcane waste (bagasse) more nutritious and digestible as animal feed by adding new supplements such as microbial protein, probiotics and enzymes. The work extends to the scale-up of supplement production and livestock testing to accelerate the path to market. He is also leading a project examining how to close the loop on fashion waste by identifying how to separate and extract fibres from mixed fabrics to produce reusable single component yarns.

As theme leader, Rob is keen to help other researchers scale up technologies and new products developed in their laboratories towards manufacturing.

“I see my role as helping to get technologies out of the lab and into the real world, and working to bridge the gap between universities and industries through effective partnerships,” Rob said.

“Working together with key industry partners and funding bodies, we can move research up the ‘technology readiness scale’ by optimising scale-up and conducting field testing to address regulatory and safety barriers to commercialisation.”

Find out more about the IFE Growing the Global Bioeconomy research theme.

QUT Institute for Future Environments

Associate Professor Robert Speight will lead IFE research to grow the global bioeconomy


Institute for Future Environments

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