York University helps local business to explore biorenewable opportunities

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Research Chemistry

York University helps local business to explore biorenewable opportunities
In the year since the Bio-renewables Development Centre opened at the University of York, the team of researchers have been working with local SMEs and large multinationals to explore novel business opportunities around the use of sustainable raw materials.

According to the director of the centre, Joe Ross, the team of researchers have helped around 50 local companies in addition to businesses from as far afield as South Africa, Australia and Sweden to look at the ways plants, microbes and waste can benefit the cosmetics industry in a greener way.

The non-profit facility funded by competitive grant applications has been specifically exploring ways to extract existing and new chemicals from alternative plant-based sources, toxicity and microbial testing and the development of new products.

On querying what it is the development centre can offer these companies in exploring this area, Ross tells this publication; "We can bridge the gap between industry and academia with our open-access scale-up facilities allowing us to bring academic research to commercial relevance​.”

"Beyond our lab-based research we are also able to gather market information with a view to building supply chains to bring these new classes of materials to the market place​," he adds.

Fulfilling its initial goal

Since the launch of the facility last year, the team appears to be on target in keeping the initial goal of integrating modern genetics with green chemistry to strengthen the UK's position as a leader in the exploitation of high-value chemicals from renewable sources.

"Our aim in establishing the BDC is to help make the UK a world leader in the production of high value chemicals by combining academic excellence from the University of York with industry capability,"​ said Professor Ian Graham, then, chair of the BDC board.

According to the CEO, the open-access facility is continuing to be updated with new laboratory space and processing, extraction and analytical equipment that tests, develops and scales up biorefining processes that can also use molecular breeding to rapidly improve plants and microbes as raw materials, which will create the potential to source high value chemicals from plants by developing novel crops or improving those already in use.

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