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£5m pledged to boost bioeconomy in the north-east

A £5m project to develop the bioeconomy across Yorkshire, the Humber region and the Tees Valley has been launched.

The bioeconomy uses renewable biological resources such as plants and wastes to reduce reliance on fossil resources and minimise waste.

The University of York will lead on the Thyme project, in collaboration with the universities of Hull and Teesside. In partnership with regional industry, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the wider community, the three-year project aims to produce high-value products from bio-based wastes and by-products, and repurpose industrial sites for bio-based manufacturing.

It also wants to increase productivity by reducing waste and energy use, adding value to by-products and developing better products using industrial biotechnology.

Thyme is part of a multi-million pound investment package to drive university commercialisation across the country through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund. The project will be delivered in partnership with the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) and BioVale.

Professor Jon Timmis, pro-vice-chancellor for partnerships and knowledge exchange at York, said: “This project builds on our world-leading expertise in the bioeconomy here at York and the wider region.”

BDC director Joe Ross said there was a growing interest in shifting away from a traditional, linear, fossil-based economy.

“We believe that switching to a circular economy based on biorenewable materials will provide major benefits for the environment, for human health and for the economy. The north has the assets and the knowledge to lead the change,” said Ross.

The University of York said the bioeconomy was estimated to be worth £220bn GVA in the UK, and the Government’s industrial strategy was setting targets to double its size by 2030.

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