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Askham Bryan College part of local consortium for green innovation and enterprise in the region

Date: 16th September 2020

Ambitious green revolution is launched to kick start the region’s post-Covid economy.

A 10-year plan to transform the region into the UK hub for green innovation and enterprise has been launched by the University of York and a consortium of partners.

The plan – which has been given the backing of local and regional MPs - aims to “level-up” the North of England, generating 4,000 skilled jobs as the country rebuilds its economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

BioYorkshire would help tackle some of the world’s major economic and environmental challenges and contribute to the region’s overall ambition to become the nation’s first carbon negative region. The project harnesses the expertise of scientists and industry experts and is led by the University of York, Askham Bryan College and Fera Science Ltd. BioYorkshire’s vision is to propel the region into growing a vibrant and dynamic bioeconomy - using renewable, biological resources to create greener products which minimize waste and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel.

The ultimate ambition of BioYorkshire is to cement the region as the UK’s centre of innovation and enterprise in the bioeconomy.

The University of York’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery said: “The North of England already has the facilities, specialised research and innovation capability, and industrial capacity to deliver a world-leading bioeconomy based on crop science, agri-tech and industrial biotechnology. “BioYorkshire’s unique partnership will co-ordinate and further develop these capabilities and resources to create a major economic opportunity for the region. We can deliver fundamental changes to the way we live, not only here in the north of England but globally.”

MPs from the region including Julian Sturdy (Con, York Outer), Rachael Maskell (Lab, York Central), Kevin Hollinrake (Con Thirsk and Malton) and Robert Goodwill (Con, Scarborough and Whitby) are in support of BioYorkshire.

The project draws on the innovative work already underway at BioYork, a University-led initiative.

Professor Ian Graham, BioYork’s Director said: “Our research programmes will offer truly cross disciplinary, innovative approaches to tackle industrial and societal challenges: we have an outstanding track record of research to benefit society.”

Yorkshire is well placed to lead the way in bio innovation, hosting national headquarters of many of the UK's largest food and drinks processing businesses, which are key to the production of valuable organic waste-feedstocks.  The region is also steeped in farming traditions and expertise with agricultural businesses accounting for more than 60 per cent of land use.

Dr Tim Whitaker, CEO and Principal of Askham Bryan College said: “The newly emerging bioeconomy needs a tailored programme of education and training to ensure the availability of technical and professional skills development to guarantee a comprehensive understanding of high welfare livestock production, crop science and agronomy.

“BioYorkshire will address the skills gap to enable rapid regional economic growth.”

BioYorkshire plans include district hubs for enterprise development, bio-based research institutes and programmes of training and skills co-developed with industry, all underpinned with bioeconomy networking and investment. Crucial demonstrator facilities for testing and scaling up of innovative technologies would also be built - the lack of which has forced UK bio-entrepreneurs to test projects further afield.

Dr Andrew Swift, CEO of Fera Science said: “BioYorkshire is designed to maximise the opportunities for interaction between researchers and businesses. Exciting new initiatives will engage industrial expertise to deliver a step change in bioeconomy research.”

MP Julian Sturdy said: “It was a pleasure to chair a briefing for MPs last week to discuss the fantastic opportunity BioYorkshire presents to lever the biotechnology, natural environment, farming and food production, and circular economy platforms of York and North Yorkshire."

“It was great to receive support from MPs across the region for this exciting collaboration between the University of York, Askham Bryan College and Fera Science. I hope my parliamentary colleagues will now join me to push BioYorkshire forward by lobbying the Government for the funds required to help make North Yorkshire the nation’s first carbon negative region while delivering profitable and sustainable technologies."

MP Rachael Maskell said: “BioYorkshire is an inspired initiative to create thousands of green collar jobs while driving forward sustainable solutions to address the environmental and climate challenges of our age. Bringing such an initiative to York consolidates our footprint in biosciences while investing in our local economy.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy estimate new products, services and exports associated with the bioeconomy could be worth an extra £220 billion a year to the UK by 2030.

More information on BioYorkshire  

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Askham Bryan College,
Askham Bryan,
YO23 3FR
01904 772277