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Sustainable solutions: realising the potential of renewable resources wins Queen's Award for the University of York

Posted on 17 November 2005

A research centre at the University of York dedicated to realising the potential of plant-based renewable resources to make products needed by society, has been awarded one of The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

The Royal accolade for CNAP (Centre for Novel Agricultural Products) announced at St James's Palace on Thursday 17 November is the second to be conferred on the University in less than 10 years. It was previously awarded to the University in 1996 for the excellence of its work in Computer Science.

Introduced following the 40th Anniversary of the Queen's reign in 1992, the prizes rank alongside the Queen's Awards for Industry. They are given biennially for "work of exceptional quality and of broad benefit either nationally or internationally."

The spectacular success of CNAP is testimony to the breadth of its research, its close interactions with the public and its focus on realising the potential of renewable resources

Professor Brian Cantor

CNAP, which is part of the University's Department of Biology, works with the natural world to find solutions to problems facing our society. Plants capture solar energy and use it to make a vast range of products in a sustainable way. This ability is much needed by a world facing the depletion of finite fossil reserves and the increasing costs of oil and petrochemicals. CNAP's six Professors work with some 70 researchers and support staff to develop a range of research programmes building on the capacity of plants and microbes to make useful products.

Founded six years ago, the research centre has already established international recognition for its achievements, the quality and creativity of its research and its commitment to communicate science to the public.

CNAP's founder and Director, Professor Dianna Bowles, said "The award of a Queens Anniversary Prize after just six years of existence is a great honour and credit to all of those who have helped to establish CNAP as a vibrant environment, committed to using science to benefit society. Increasing our knowledge of plants and the natural world provides a real opportunity to develop sustainable solutions to many of the problems facing us."

The University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Cantor said: "The spectacular success of CNAP is testimony to the breadth of its research, its close interactions with the public and its focus on realising the potential of renewable resources. Fossil fuel reserves are finite and it is essential that society finds new sustainable alternatives.

"The fact that this is the University's second Queen's Anniversary Prize - the first being for our work in Computer Science - reflects the all-round excellence of the University's research and teaching, and its commitment to engaging with the public on many levels."

Notes to editors:

  • The University of York is one of 21 winners of the sixth round of The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education. The winners were announced by the Founder and Chairman of the Royal Anniversary Trust, Robin Gill CVO, at St James's Palace on 17 November 2005.
  • CNAP was established through a benefaction from the Garfield Weston Foundation and funding from UK Government. The research centre is located in the new £22 million bioscience development, occupying 2000m2 of laboratories and facilities. Research in plant and microbial sciences is supported by the UK Research Councils, particularly the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as well as the DTI and DEFRA, and funding from European and US organisations. At a regional level, CNAP works with Yorkshire Forward and the Arts Council, England, Yorkshire, developing a range of activities in public awareness of science, including "Hidden Worlds - Secret Lives", taking microscopes into primary schools across Yorkshire. Professor Dianna Bowles, Director of CNAP, also coordinates a European Consortium providing science to advise policy in non-food crops "Realising the economic potential of sustainable resources - bioproducts from non-food crops", and chairs the new Knowledge Transfer Network of the DTI: Bioscience for Business.For further information on CNAP see and
  • CNAP is a research centre in the Department of Biology. The Department is one of the leading centres for biological teaching and research in the UK, and has an integrated approach to Biology, with no barriers between disciplines. The Department teaches degree courses and undertakes research across the whole spectrum of modern Biology, from molecular genetics and biochemistry to ecology. The Department occupies a single set of purpose-built teaching and research laboratories at the west end of the University campus. The new laboratories, funded by a £21.6M JIF award from BBSRC, opened in July 2002, and include the innovative Technology Facility. For further information on the Department see
  • The University of York is a dynamic and highly successful organisation, recognised internationally for its excellence in teaching and research. The University is consistently ranked in the top ten of UK universities. Images are available from the University of York Press Office. Contact David Garner on 01904 432153.

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David Garner
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Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153