The Norwich Research Park Biorefinery Centre has joined a new alliance of similar established R&D centres, called BioPilotsUK.
This alliance will seek to position Britain as a global leader in biorefining technology development and bio-based product manufacture – two key elements of the bioeconomy.
“BioPilotsUK will enable Britain to realise the potential to tap both bioresources and biotechnology to create novel industrial products and processes necessary for an economically and environmentally sustainable nation,” said Professor Keith Waldron, Director of the NRP Biorefinery Centre, which is based at the Institute of Food Research.
The founding centres are BEACON (Wales), the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC – York), the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI – Redcar), IBioIC (Scotland) and The Biorefinery Centre (Norwich).
BioPilotsUK brings together the nation’s leading expertise and facilities to help innovative ideas navigate the so called “valley of death” by demonstrating new bio-based processes and products at a commercially-relevant scale, in turn helping clients invest in the right technologies to grow their businesses.
“What we are all about is supporting the transition away from fossil resources by making the best use of biorenewable materials and unavoidable wastes,” expands Adam Charlton, BEACON Project Manager, BioComposites Centre, Bangor University. “As an alliance, we can significantly de-risk the innovation process for anyone exploring a bio-based idea.”
By working collaboratively, the alliance seeks to significantly speed up the commercialisation of new green processes and products from biomass, including: plants, algae, and wastes.
“Together we offer the skills, facilities and industry experience to help our partners tackle all manner of bio-based projects such as turning food by-products into pharmaceuticals, improving anaerobic digestion processes or developing batteries from biomass,” notes Joe Ross, Director, BDC.
Due to the varied nature of these raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach to biorefining, rather a series of technologies that must be trialled and combined. Now, the new alliance can quickly assemble the right team for any given bio-based project using expertise and facilities from across the five centres.
“The five founding open-access centres have developed a wealth of experience in blending the right processes and technologies to translate bio-based innovations into commercial opportunities for our clients and partners. We want this alliance to make that an even more effective experience and in particular to accelerate the creation and growth of more SMEs in this sector” explains, Frank Millar, Director of Operations at CPI.
“The UK has huge potential for developing its bio-based and industrial biotechnology (IB) sectors. The breadth and depth of experience, knowledge and equipment of the alliance, will help companies across Scotland, England and Wales to harness these opportunities faster and more cost effectively,” says Roger Kilburn, CEO, IBioIC.
The bioeconomy offers a multi-billion-pound, global business opportunity: it is worth around €2 trillion in Europe alone and is growing rapidly worldwide. Offering the potential to deliver greater business value through social, environmental and financial benefits, it is estimated that the UK bioeconomy is already worth £153 bn in gross value-added (GVA) terms, generating over 4M jobs*.
The announcement was made at the opening of annual market-leading conference, the European Forum in Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB) 2016, which was held in Glasgow this year.
* “Biotech Britain: An assessment of the impact of industrial biotechnology and bioenergy on the United Kingdom economy” Capital Economics, June 2015. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/documents/capital-economics-biotech-britain-july-2015/