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26 October, 2016 - 15:24 By Kate Sweeney

UK alliance bids to lead €2 trillion bioeconomy initiative

Norwich Research Park, biorefinery centre

A new UK renewable energy alliance has been formed with input from the East of England designed to generate more biomass from waste to power communities and industries.

The Norwich Research Park Biorefinery Centre has joined a cartel of similarly established R & D centres, called BioPilotsUK, that seeks to position Britain as a global leader in biorefining technology development and bio-based product manufacture – two key elements of the bioeconomy.

Professor Keith Waldron, director of the NRP Biorefinery Centre, which is based at the Institute of Food Research said: “BioPilotsUK will enable Britain to realise the potential to tap both bioresources and biotechnology to create novel industrial products and processes necessary for an economically and environmentally sustainable nation.”

The founding centres are BEACON (Wales), the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC, York), the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI, Redcar), IBioIC (Scotland) and The Biorefinery Centre (Norwich).

BioPilotsUK brings together the nation’s leading expertise and facilities to help innovative ideas navigate the so called valley of death by demonstrating new bio-based processes and products at a commercially-relevant scale, in turn helping clients invest in the right technologies to grow their businesses.

By working collaboratively, the alliance seeks to significantly speed up the commercialisation of new green processes and products from biomass, including: plants, algae, and wastes.

Due to the varied nature of these raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach to biorefining, rather a series of technologies that must be trialled and combined.

The new alliance can quickly assemble the right team for any given bio-based project using expertise and facilities from across the five centres.

The bioeconomy is worth around €2 trillion in Europe alone and is growing rapidly worldwide. Offering the potential to deliver greater business value through social, environmental and financial benefits, it is estimated that the UK bioeconomy is already worth £153 billion in gross value-added (GVA) terms, generating over four million jobs.

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