University welcomes Government funding boost for region’s bioeconomy

News | Posted on Wednesday 9 July 2014

The BioHub project at the University of York, which will drive the growth of the biorenewables and wider bioeconomy sector in the region, has secured major investment through the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

Artist's impression of the bio-hub
Artist's impression of the bio-hub

The BioHub will provide 85,000 square feet of highly flexible laboratory business incubation/grow on space, facilities and associated activities and could create up to 500 new jobs. It will benefit from a share of the £110 million handed to the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership announced by the Government today.

The Biohub project is part of the BioVale initiative, which is led by the University. BioVale is an innovation cluster, which aims to establish the region as an international centre for bio-based research and development, stimulating sustainable economic growth and encouraging inward investment. The BioHub will be a major focus for BioVale and provide the essential facilities and business incubation space needed to help build the region’s bioeconomy.

The new BioHub facility will host and support a range of high-tech companies, working in the bioeconomy, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the early stages of their development. It will provide flexible laboratory and pilot-scale business incubation space as well as intensive support to help firms grow their bioeconomy business. It will focus on the region’s internationally competitive areas of high-value chemicals from plants and microbes, value from biowaste, agricultural technology and advanced biofuels and biorefineries.

The BioHub will represent the first phase of a major new bioeconomy research and development cluster on the University’s campus extension at Heslington East. This will include further inward investment and building developments as multinationals and SMEs seek to locate next to the Biohub.

The University of York will contribute 4.3 acres of the fully serviced Heslington East site for the BioHub worth in the region of £2million. Heslington East also has space for significant expansion to accommodate additional commercial buildings as the bioeconomy cluster grows.

The University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Deborah Smith, said: “The funding announced today, to support the development of BioHub Buildings at the University of York, will provide the essential facilities and business incubation space needed to help build the region’s bioeconomy.

“The University has world-leading capabilities in both biological and chemical sciences for the development of bio-based products. This new BioHub centre will significantly enhance the ability of the university to leverage research expertise to drive low carbon economic growth and the creation of sustainable jobs for the region.”

The announcement of the new funding comes hard on the heels of a new agreement between BioVale and its French counterpart, the Industries & Agro-Resources (IAR) cluster. The memorandum of understanding signed by the partners on Saturday 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.