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Five UK R&D centres forge new alliance to support bio-economy growth.

1Resized_BioPilots_UK_LARGE.jpgTogether we offer the skills, facilities and industry experience to help our partners tackle all manner of bio-based projects

De-risking the commercialisation of bio-based products and processes is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces. Navigating the so called valley of death by demonstrating the innovation can be developed at a commercially-relevant scale is essential to achieve success. Now five established R&D centres across the UK have this week announced a new alliance, BioPilotsUK to further position the country as a global leader in bio-refining technology development and bio-based product manufacture two key elements of the bio-economy.

The founding centres are from across the breadth of the UK – BEACON in Wales, the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) in York, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in Redcar, Scotlands IBioIC and The Biorefinery Centre in Norwich. Together they will not only work on the processes but also help clients invest in the right technologies to grow their businesses.

The announcement was made at this weeks European Forum in Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB) 2016 ( @EFIBconference)in Glasgow. In an event where discussion of the UKs impending departure from the European Union was never far away and the announcement of the first stages of a potential second referendum on Scottish independence was met with disappointment by most, collaboration like this can only be a positive for a UK cloaked in uncertainty.

What we are all about is supporting the transition away from fossil resources by making the best use of bio-renewable materials and unavoidable wastes, expands Adam Charlton, BEACON ( @beaconwales)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 (@BDC_org)

BioPilots Map UK

Due to the varied nature of these raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach to bio-refining, 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 (@ukCPI)

(Right: A map of the partners – 1) BEACON 2) Biorenwables Development Centre 3) CPI 4)IBioIC 5)the Biorefinery Centre)

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 (@IBioIC).

The bio-economy 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, a 2015 report states that it is estimated that the UK bio-economy is already worth 153 billion in gross value-added (GVA) terms, generating over 4M jobs


BioPilotsUK will enable Britain to realise the potential to tap both bio-resources and biotechnology to create novel industrial products and processes necessary for an economically and environmentally sustainable nation, concludes Keith Waldron, Director, the Biorefinery Centre (@NRPBiorefinery)

For more on BioPilotsUK click here.


For more stories on UK bio-based innovation like this:

Crafting the connections to fuel Scotland’s biotech ambitions.

Documentary Video – Panning for Green Gold: developing the algal bio-economy.

What will Brexit mean for Britain’s bio-economy and EU green targets?

Algae discovery offers commercialization path for cosmetics.

The bio-based development aiming to give reconstructive surgery a new face.


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