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UK and French innovation clusters BioVale and IAR sign agreement to collaborate in building the global bioeconomy

Posted on 7 July 2014

The Yorkshire-based biotechnology innovation cluster, BioVale and its French counterpart, the Industries & Agro-Resources (IAR) cluster, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The two organisations are to work together to support world-class research and innovation, boost the global bioeconomy, and open up multibillion pound opportunities for UK and French businesses.  The agreement was signed at the York Mansion House, and coincided with the Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

The MoU was signed by the Chair of BioVale's steering group, Professor Deborah Smith OBE, and the President of the Industries & Agro-Resources' (IAR) cluster, Dominique Dutartre. This agreement between two pioneering innovation clusters is a significant development, which will lead to joint research and development projects; staff and student exchanges; shared access to facilities; and co-operation on developing new markets for UK and French bio-based businesses.

Deborah Smith said: "We want BioVale and IAR to work with the most innovative researchers and the most forward-looking companies in the world. Both partners have an impressive record of working with global industry partners and small businesses, and extensive collaboration between the two clusters will help us both to achieve much more in the future."

Dominique Dutartre added: "Of particular significance is shared access to demonstration facilities in novel areas, such as the latest biorefining techniques. Such facilities are crucial for innovation. Through this partnership, we are creating exciting opportunities for large industry partners, and also for smaller enterprises that often don’t have resources to invest in facilities, however big the potential rewards."

Councillor James Alexander, leader of City of York Council added : "We see clearly the potential for significant economic growth arising from this collaboration, for the city and beyond, as part of a global bioeconomy. York is already at the forefront of global research and development activity in this area as home to an internationally competitive research and development base in the sector. This, coupled with the already strong business base across the wider region, makes Yorkshire and Humber uniquely positioned to take advantage of the inward investment, employment and export opportunities it will bring."

The term bioeconomy refers to the use of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. The EU's bioeconomy is estimated to have €2trillion turnover and account for over 22million jobs.  It is creating major new markets and a providing a source of sustainable, low-carbon economic growth. The IAR and BioVale clusters both have the combination of industry, agriculture and world-class science that is needed to capitalise on these opportunities. International collaboration between the two clusters will extend their reach and capabilities still further.

The MoU will be followed by a UK business mission to Reims at the end of September to coincide with the 7th European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bio-based Economy, hosted by IAR.

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