The university has been awarded £4.5m to understand natural biological 'factories' and their role in producing novel agrochemicals.
Synthetic biology aims to design, engineer or replicate biological systems, for example biosynthetic insulin, which first went on sale on 1982. A total of 70 per cent of the insulin sold worldwide is produced in this way.
Science minister David Willetts said: "Synthetic biology could provide solutions to the global challenges we face and offers significant growth opportunities in a range of important sectors from health to energy. However the commercialisation of basic science is largely untapped.
"This investment is part of the government's commitment to making the UK a world leader in the research and application of synthetic biology. It will help to ensure that academics and industry can realise its full potential."
Lionel Clarke of Shell Projects and Technology, who chaired the coordinating group for the roadmap, added: "Achieving this strategic alignment, with the leadership council set to act as a focal point for ongoing coordination, will play a key role in realising our collective vision for synthetic biology in the UK."
The other projects which have secured funding are at the universities of Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Exeter and the John Innes Centre in Norwich.