The University of York has been awarded £1.79 million to support the growth of Yorkshire businesses that deliver products, processes or services related to renewable, biological resources. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is providing the funding to help establish the region as an internationally recognised leader in this fast-growing bioeconomy sector.
The production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, energy, chemicals and other materials is referred to as the bioeconomy.
The funding announcement comes just days after the government asked York to lead a consortium of universities, research establishments, Local Enterprise Partnerships and industry to carry out a comprehensive audit of the bioeconomy of the North of England.
Exports of bioeconomy products are rising rapidly worldwide: from 9.8 per cent of world trade in 2007 to 12.6 per cent in 2014. The Yorkshire and Humber region has a large and thriving bioeconomy, which generates around £18 billion worth of goods and services a year. There is huge potential to grow the region’s contribution to this rapidly expanding sector further, driving regional economic growth and creating high-quality sustainable jobs.
The new funding has been awarded to the University of York, who will invest it in two key activities:
- The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) will deliver a three-year business support programme to help regional businesses develop novel processes and products based on plants or microbes.
- BioVale will work to establish the Yorkshire and the Humber as a world-leading region for innovation in the bioeconomy by: facilitating networking and dialogue, building international collaboration, encouraging trade and investment and coordinating specialised training.
This funding complements £2.4 million awarded to the University in 2015 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to help grow the UK’s bioeconomy.
Professor Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York and Chair of the BioVale steering group, said: “The University of York has research and expertise relevant to the bioeconomy that is world-class. This funding is further recognition of that fact and will support BioVale’s important role in maximising the impact of the University’s work on the regional bioeconomy.”
Dr Joe Ross, Director of the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) said: “This grant is good news for the region’s small and medium-sized businesses, who can now benefit from funded business support to develop novel processes or products using plants, wastes or microbes.”