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‘Great year’ for York bio-products team
A MULTIMILLION-pound initiative to help businesses develop renewable products is securing its commercial future after a successful first year.
The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC), based at York Science Park, has seen its team grow in the last 12 months from six members to 23, including 18 scientists.
Opened by business secretary Vince Cable last year following a £2.5 million capital grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the centre has since secured European funding to enable it to continue its work for the next two years.
In its first year the not-for-profit company has seen investment in improved and extended facilities as well as the commissioning of new laboratories and equipment.
Scientist have already teamed up with a number of York businesses to work on new processes to convert plants and bio wastes, such as agricultural and food waste into chemicals.
Speaking about the first year Mark Gronnow, process development unit manager at the BDC, said: “It has been a great year, starting with the simple things such as going from a team of six to winning our funding to operate until 2015 and recruiting a team of 23.
“This year has also seen us finish building the centre. A year ago we had all the new machines in place, now we have a considerable amount of time on each machine under our belts.
“The number of research projects is growing exponentially; it’s really exciting, the amount of work we are doing.
“The main highlight for me has been the diverse range of organisations we work with, in particular the commercially relevant projects and seeing them go forward and develop to the next stage of commercialisation.”
When opened the centre was given the aim of working with more than 130 SME’s and creating more than 100 jobs in the region by 2015.
“We are definitely on target to achieve that,” said Dr Gronnow.
“It was quite a daunting task at first, but we are well on line with our target graph.”
Plans are also said to be shaping up for the continuation of the project beyond the funding for the next two years.
Dr Gronnow explained: “Beyond 2015 we want to diversify into picking up a range of commercial and academic projects to continue our long term sustainability.
“We are developing our plan beyond 2015, which is when our European funding runs out. But we will continue to help and work with local businesses to develop their biorenewable diversification.
“A number of our funding sources is already paid work which comes from as far afield as Australia.
“We are looking forward to growing that.”
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