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Bioeconomy bonanza for Yorkshire

Posted on 24 April 2014

Senior industry figures from across Yorkshire joined forces with some of the world’s leading scientific researchers in York to discuss how the region can gain a bigger share of Europe’s rapidly expanding bioeconomy market.

Drawing on the experience of northern France, industrialists, researchers and public policy makers in the region believe that the recently established BioVale innovation cluster could be the catalyst to growing the bioeconomy in Yorkshire and the Humber. The bioeconomy is already worth some £8.7 billion to the region and that could rise to £12 billion by 2025.

Business leaders and researchers at the York round table heard from Professor Ian Graham, head of the University of York’s highly successful Department of Biology, that “the bioeconomy is worth over two trillion euros in the EU alone. Globally the major superpowers all have ambitious policies for the bio-based economy. Yorkshire has a unique combination of knowledge, agriculture and industry to capitalise on that opportunity.”

His comments found strong support from the other side of the Channel, when Christophe Luguel from the French cluster Industries & Agro-Resources told the participants that: “investment in research, innovation and demonstration means bio-based industries in the North East of France now turn over €22.5bn and employ some 3,500 people.”

A wide range of industries involved in the bioeconomy – from production of renewable biological resources through to manufacture of food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy – took part in the round table discussion organised by BioVale.

One of the leading lights in this sector, Christine Parry, Co-Products Development Manager for AB Agri, said “We know that there is value to be added to organic by-products from our operations. BioVale will give us streamlined access to a knowledge base that can help us do that.”

Although each sector had a different perspective on how to grow the bioeconomy, there was consensus that bio-based businesses could gain real value from the BioVale innovation cluster. “Biovale has an important role to play in developing new products, techniques and markets for firms in our region. It can help improve sustainability and profitability in the supply chain by showing how one company’s waste can become another one’s feedstock,” said Katy Stewart, Head of Economic Development, City of York Council.

Notes to editors:

  • BioVale ( is a proposed innovation cluster for the bioeconomy, based in Yorkshire and the Humber. It aims to catalyse environmentally and socially sustainable growth and attract inward investment to the area. Acting as a one stop shop for accessing the region’s outstanding knowledge base, BioVale will focus on the region’s internationally competitive areas (high value chemicals from plants and microbes, natural products, next generation biofuels and adding value to biowastes). BioVale activities will include:
    • Sponsoring purpose-built business growth facilities
    • Helping to establish bio-based supply chains
    • Promoting the region’s biorenewables expertise.
    • Providing tailored education and training
  • The Round Table Discussion held in York included senior representatives from leading companies in the region including AB Agri, Croda, Dalkia, Drax, McCain, Nestle, NFU, NNFCC and Stockbridge Technology Centre, as well as academics from the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York,
  • Askam Bryan College, and the Biorenewables Development Centre. Representatives were also present from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and local government.
  • The Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE) at the University of York is a world leading research centre, led by Professor James Clark, which aims to promote the development and implementation of green and sustainable chemistry and related technologies into new products and processes. For more info visit
  • The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) is an international research centre in the Department of Biology at the University of York focused on the development of plants and microbes as green factories. For more info visit
  • The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) is a not-for-profit company, based at the University of York that helps businesses develop ways to convert plants, microbes and biowastes into profitable biorenewable products. GCCE and CNAP are its academic founders.
  • The BDC has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to support regional businesses to embrace the bioeconomy through improved access to research and development activities. For more information see