Seeing double

Posted on 9 November 2018

Department of Biology secures two phase II Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy

The Department of Biology at the University of York has been awarded two phase II Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Only six networks are awarded in total, and for two to be led from the University of York is a reflection of the strength and track record of delivery in the industrial biotechnology and bioenergy area. Building on that strength BioYork was recently established to drive the development of UK bio-based industries and deliver environmental benefits as well as jobs and economic growth.

Support

The York-based NIBBs will support the scientific community by developing academic and industrial networks and will include the wider community such as policy makers and international partners. Their activities will include workshops, flexible funds for research and proof of concept projects, and enterprise development activities.

The High Value Biorenewables (HVB) network is led by Professor Ian Graham at the University of York, and co-directed by Professor Anne Osbourn at the John Innes Centre and Dr Joe Ross of the Biorenewables Development Centre. HVB builds on and extends the work of its successful predecessor network, High Value Chemicals from Plants.

Professor Graham said: “We are looking forward to making a real difference over the next five years and beyond with lots of opportunities now emerging for industry, in partnership with our excellent research base across the UK, to utilise high value biorenewables leading to jobs, growth and environmental benefits.”

Demand

Driven by industrial demand, HVB will focus on the discovery, development and application of bio-based chemicals, tools and platform technologies. As a network, HVB will address the challenges that are common to the wider use of biorenewables, such as discovery research, production systems and scale-up. HVB’s activities will aim to meet the increasing global demand for more biorenewable products and processes.

The Biomass Biorefinery Network (BBNet) is led by Professor Simon McQueen-Mason at the University of York. BBNet is co-directed by Professor Patricia Thornley, director of Supergen Bioenergy; Professor David Leak of the University of Bath; Professor Dimitris Charalampopoulos of the University of Reading and Professor Michele Stanley of the Scottish Academy of Marine Sciences.

BBNet brings together elements from several first wave NIBBs - the Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Network, Plants to Products Network, and Food Waste Network - to create a network focussed on the major elements of biomass biorefining. It will serve as a catalyst to bring the UK’s best scientists together with our most ambitious and innovative companies to drive forward the sustainable economy.

Urgent

Professor McQueen-Mason said: “The urgent move to a low carbon economy is providing major challenges and major opportunities to the companies prepared to make bold moves in this sector. My ambition is to ensure that BBNet provides the resources to build a vibrant, well-informed research community to underpin low carbon innovation. I see my role as providing leadership and a voice to those working in our sector, and encouragement for new people to get involved.”