Biotech vs. Bioengineering: What’s the difference?

Biotech Vs. Bioengineering: What's The Difference?

While you might think that biotechnology and bioengineering are pretty much the same thing, they do have some important differences to know about.

This is especially important if you want to start a career in either field because it will help you to choose the best one.

What are examples of biotechnology and bioengineering?

You can find examples of both of these around you. Just look at a glass of wine – technology used to produce wine was developed by biotechnologists. Similarly, if you need an ultrasound, this is an example of bioengineering.

With that in mind, let’s explore both biotechnology and bioengineering in greater detail. We’ll start by looking at some important differences between them.


The Main Differences Between Biotech and Bioengineering

Biotechnology is focused on life science. Its aim is to create and develop products that can be useful in various industries, such as the food and medical industries.

It makes use of biological systems to create useful products. Biotechnology concentrates on living organisms and how they can be applied to medicine, technology, agriculture, and business.

Bioengineering, on the other hand, makes use of engineering principles to solve problems that arise in medicine as well as biology. It makes use of engineering methods and scientific concepts to find solutions.

Although they are a bit different, the two are definitely connected!

  • Biotechnology makes use of technology when studying and using biological systems.
  • On the other hand, bioengineering relates to designing and transforming the technology in biotechnology.

To see how this would work in real life, we can say that biotechnology creates the cells that will develop pharmaceutical drugs. Bioengineering, on the other hand, develops a process that will ensure those drugs can be produced faster.

Now that we’ve analyzed the main definitions of both biotechnology and bioengineering, we can explore both of them in greater detail. Let’s start with biotechnology!

The Four Main Types Of Biotechnology

Biotechnology has four main types. These are:

  • Medical biotechnology, which is focused on using living cells to create new technologies to improve human health. It also makes use of studying DNA to identify genetic disorders and find ways to treat them. Various developments in medical biotechnology include the development of antibiotics and vaccines.
  • Agricultural biotechnology, which involves developing genetically-modified plants to increase crop yield. An example would be GM crops that are pest-resistant or can grow during droughts. This type of biotechnology also involves finding other ways to make crops healthier, such as by boosting their nutritional value. This can help to deal with the world’s hunger problem.
  • Industrial biotechnology, which makes use of technology for industrial purposes to improve manufacturing processes. It basically makes use of microorganisms and enzymes to create products to make the processes smoother.
  • Environmental biotechnology, which uses technology to improve the environment. This can take the form of finding innovative ways for waste treatment or the prevention of air, land, and water contaminants.

There Are Many Other Types Of Biotechnology!

The four previous types of biotech aren’t the only ones – with biotechnology growing and influencing many different fields and sectors, there are always new ones hitting the scene.

Examples of other types of biotechnology include biotechnology in food production and biotechnology that focuses on marine resources. You can find out more about all the types of biotechnology by reading the article “Types of Biotechnology Explained: 4 Biotech Colors.”

What Are The Applications Of Biotechnology?

Biotechnology has applications in a variety of sectors, such as food processing and preservation, agriculture, bio energy, health and medicine, and waste management. The important thing to remember is that biotechnology mainly focuses on the natural sciences.

Taking A Closer Look At Bioengineering

Taking A Closer Look At Bioengineering

Interestingly, bioengineering and its popularity can be traced back to electrical engineers of the 1950s. It came about as a way to find solutions to various needs, such as the need for replacement organs, as Britannica reports.

Some examples of bioengineering include the engineering of bacteria to produce pharmaceutical drugs and the development of artificial knees and other joints.

Even ultrasounds and other types of medical imaging techniques are examples of bioengineering, which just goes to show how it’s had such a huge impact on our lives. There are exciting developments in bioengineering currently underway, such as robotics, genetic engineering, and neural engineering.

Bioengineers are usually employed by a variety of different institutions, such as pharmaceutical companies, medical research institutions, and regulatory agencies.

What Are The Applications Of Bioengineering?

Bioengineering engineering is a field that mainly concerns itself with principles of engineering, such as mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering, basic sciences such as physics, as well as biotechnology in the form of genetic engineering and tissue engineering.

The Different Types Of Bioengineering

Bioengineering uses what biological theory there is to solve problems in the world. It either makes use of biological systems that are already present or it changes them to enhance or improve their effects. There are many different types, or branches, of bioengineering. Let’s take a look at them.

  • Medical engineering. This has the focus of applying engineering principles to medical problems, such as finding ways to replace or heal damaged organs with the use of engineering techniques.
  • Agricultural engineering. This puts engineering principles to work by using them to solve problems related to biological production and the environment.
  • Bionics. This concerns the study of living systems so that all the knowledge gained from them can be used to design physical systems. An example of this is the use of prosthetic limbs that can be controlled with artificial intelligence.
  • Biochemical engineering. This applies engineering principles to microscopic biological systems that create new products, such as producing protein from raw materials. Another example of biochemical engineering is the development of agricultural chemicals to treat and develop food for human consumption.
  • Human-factors engineering. In human-factors engineering, principles of engineering, psychology, and physiology are applied to the human-machine relationship. In other words, those principles are applied to machines that are designed for our use. An example of human-factors engineering is the creation of the telephone and space suit.
  • Environmental health engineering. This is when engineering principles are applied to the control of the environment, with the aim of increasing human beings’ health, safety, and comfort. An example includes life-support systems for space exploration. 
  • Genetic engineering. This is all about changing organisms, and it’s focused on manipulating DNA or other nucleic acid molecules. This has already led to various products that can help people, such as the development of human insulin to control diabetes.
  • Biomimicry. This is a fascinating type of bioengineering, which is also known as biomimetics. It applies natural systems to solve complicated engineering problems. An example is how scientists have mimicked the design of termite mounds to create more energy-efficient buildings. This has been adopted in Zimbabwe, with what’s known as The Eastgate Building. This commercial block of offices is combined with a shopping mall, but it makes use of internal climate control by its design being similar to that of a termite mound. This makes use of natural processes to ensure that inside the building it’s warm during winter and cool during summer, as Environmental Science explains.

Innovation To Pave The Way Forward

Innovation To Pave The Way Forward

While it’s clear to see that biotechnology and bioengineering have different purposes, they also intersect and influence each other. In some cases, they can be really similar in what they achieve. Both of them are trying to find more natural solutions to various problems we face in our health and environment.

For example, a marine biotechnologist will be sourcing microorganisms from the ocean to find ways to treat various health conditions, while a bioengineer could be finding inspiration from how termites build mounds in order to innovate the way we construct buildings. 

Related Questions

What’s the difference between bioengineering and biomedical engineering?

Bioengineering studies applying engineering practices to biology, whereas biomedical engineering is a specialized version of bioengineering. It puts bioengineering theories into practice to help to improve human health.

What is biotechnology engineering?

This makes use of biology as well as chemical engineering principles. Genetic engineering, and cell and tissue culture technologies form part of it. 


Biotechnology and bioengineering are linked, but they do have some interesting and important differences.

In this article, we’ve looked at what they both mean in greater detail as well as explored how they function in the real world and how they connect to find innovative solutions to real-world problems. When technology and biology meet, great things can happen.