Friday, September 24, 2021

Boost for region’s bioeconomy

The THYME project, a collaboration between the Universities of Hull, Teesside and York, has secured a farther £1.8 million in funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund to continue working together to develop innovation assets to help to boost economic growth.

The fast-growing bioeconomy represents a major economic opportunity for the UK and particularly for the North of England, which has world-class bioeconomy assets.

The THYME project aims to build on these regional assets to drive increased productivity of companies operating in the bioeconomy across Yorkshire, Humberside and the Tees Valley.

The project also aims to pave the way to a more sustainable future where industry uses renewable sources of raw materials.

Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull, said: “The fast-growing bioeconomy represents a major economic and carbon net-zero opportunity for our region, which has a range of world-class bioeconomy assets.

“The collaboration and knowledge exchange fostered by the THYME project, across the partners and industry, has driven a range of new products and services over the past three years.

“This extension of the programme by Research England will continue to increase innovation in the bioeconomy sector and sector productivity, and I look forward to the leading role we can play from the University of Hull in delivering these advances.”

The Research England funding is part of a commitment announced today by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP to increase annual public investment on R&D to a record £22 billion, while stressing the need for private sector investment.

The funding is a cornerstone of the new BEIS Innovation Strategy, which sets out plans to cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in science, research and innovation.

The bioeconomy is central to key strategic areas identified in the strategy – Bioinformatics and Genomics; Engineering Biology; and Energy and Environment Technologies.

Dr Joe Ross, Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) Director at the University of York, said: “For the past three years, the engagement and enthusiasm of all the staff across the three Universities have been exceptional, they have found new and innovative ways to work together and to reach out to bio-based businesses and other regional stakeholders.”

The new THYME funding will allow a further twenty industry partnership projects to drive growth in the region’s bioeconomy and help tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.

Dr Jenny Spear, THYME Programme Manager at the University of Hull, said: “Crucially, this extension will deepen the interactions between the partner universities and increase the maturity of technologies being developed in partnership with industry.

“There is a great opportunity for regional economic growth in this sector and we will continue to work with young people, educators and business, to enable skills development and longer-term employment opportunities.”

The University of Hull is involved in nine of these twenty projects, representing a mixture of follow-on funding to develop previous research ideas as well as completely new partnerships.

These include innovative work around bioenergy including improvement of biogas production via anaerobic digestion, low carbon production of biofuels, and creating new sources of green energy from biowaste streams.

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