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Sat 8th February
Biovale is next phase in York's science revolution
For more than 20 years, science has been evolving as a contender for York's leading industry. Bio-science has grown to such an extent that the city is positioning itself as a vital hub for the bio-economy. Business editor Laura Knowlson reports on the next phase in York's science revolution – BioVale.

The world is making a determined shift away from its dependence on fossil fuels, leaving room for the emergence of new multi-million- pound markets in bio-based products.

With its rolling countryside and acres of farmland combined with a healthy variety of industry, North Yorkshire is already primed for both sources and uses of biowaste. Couple that with world-class research and the region has all it needs for a self-functional bio-economy.

The opportunity has not gone unnoticed, and from it, BioVale has been born.

The Biorenewables Development Centre, based at York Science Park, SCY (formerly Science City York), the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products and the Green Chemistry Centre at the University of York, and York City Council, are all working together on the concept, which is to create an “innovation cluster” which will support the development of the region’s bio-based economy.
The scheme is currently in a consultation phase, with those behind it talking to the industry to establish its needs and requirements, while funding applications are shaping up for grants totalling more than £50 million to get BioVale off the ground and create a physical base for its work somewhere in or around York.

The BioVale concept was presented in York last week at the BioSynergy 2014 conference, organised by SCY and Bionow. Attended by more than 100 people, the one-day conference brought together businesses, academia and experts in the life sciences community with the aim of inspiring businesses to further growth and connecting the region’s bioscience community with peers and key contacts through the industry.

The event was held at FERA, at Sand Hutton, which is home to 550 scientists, has 7000 global customers and sells to more than 130 countries.

Speaking to the conference about BioVale was Maggie Smallwood, research development manager at the Biorenewables Development Centre.

She said: “It’s very important that the UK grasps this bio-economy theory. Just in the EU this industry is worth two trillion euros. The UK has already invested £200 million in these areas, and there has been a growth in the biochemical industry of 25 per cent.

“When you look at York, we have got quite a unique combination of facilities. We’ve got FERA, we've got engineering at Leeds and Hull universities and very forward-thinking agricultural colleges. We’ve got very strong bio-based industry, ie industries in food, chemical and bio energy.

“We also have a very diverse agriculture. Yorkshire farmers are genuinely interested in new things and new ways of making money. “We have got thousands of SMEs and that’s where the innovation is really going to come from. BioVale will be an innovation cluster that supports the development and promotion of Yorkshire and the Humber as an international hub for the biobased economy. We want people to think of York as the place to come to for this type of thing.”

The Biorenewables Development Centre works with industry to develop and demonstrate processes to convert plant and biowaste into chemicals.

The use of biowaste is widely being adopted as an alternative to fossil fuels, in particular at Selby power station Drax, which is currently in the process of converting its coal fired units into biomass burners.

Cleaner energy sources are following in the footsteps of energy efficiency as a priority for business and homeowners as they look reduce their carbon footprint and save money in the process.

There is now a growing industry in offering advice and funding for energy efficiency improvement projects. One such company to have set up in the field is Green Energy Brokers, based in Tadcaster Road, which employs a team of trained advisors and surveyors who have access to the latest Energy Company Obligation and Green Deal funded packages to bring energy saving measures into people's homes.

For the full article please visit the York Press website

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