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At the cutting edge of science
12:00am Tuesday 19th February 2013 in The York Report
York has diversified its business base since the early 1990s to become a knowledge-based economy.
York’s high skills quota and awardwinning university research base has set it up well to make its mark as one of six science cities in the UK.
Sixteen per cent of York’s working population is employed within the knowledge-based economy, contributing more than £20,000 to the economy (GVA per capita) according to Centre for Cities.
Its strengths are in biosciences, in particular environmental and biorenewable technologies, healthcare and medical industries, IT and digital and media arts and creative technologies, driven by the expertise of its universities.
Over the last ten years, the city has invested £800 million into its science and technology infrastructure, helping it today to host 500 science and technology businesses.
In 1992, global medical technology business Smith & Nephew laid the foundations for what is now York Science Park when it opened a research centre close to the University of York on its campus in Heslington.
The park has been developed over 21 acres and is now home to more than 100 companies in the science and technology sectors, from small start-ups to large, international corporations.
Research-led businesses involved in medical testing, wound care and medical transplants now join manufacturers of specialist equipment based on the science park and businesses which develop digital imaging technology, lowcarbon technologies, software and much more.
Last year, Business Secretary Vince Cable opened The University of York’s new centre to help develop renewable products, such as chemicals, from plants.
The Biorenewables Development Centre, a pilot centre for industry and academics to work on new processes to convert plants and bio wastes, such as agricultural and food waste into chemicals, aims to scale up the research already being undertaken in the university’s Green Chemistry Centre and Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP).
The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), based in the Department of Biology at the University of York, researches plants for use as bio-renewables, crops for food and other high-value chemical-based applications, or medical treatments, such as a variety of poppy which scientists believe may have the potential to become a cancer treatment.
The University of York has also last year invested in developing a remote-control room at its York Plasma Institute to enable scientists and businesses to use Tokamaks, magnetic fields used to confine plasma, a hot, ionised gas, at centres in other parts of the world, such as the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST), based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Oxfordshire.
Plasma could be applied as a source for environmentally friendly energy and in technical and medical applications, such as surface coatings, computer-chip manufacture and wound treatment.
Another cluster of science businesses is developing at Sand Hutton around the premises of Government agency Fera (Food and Environment Research Agency).
Fera’s scientists work internationally on the safety and sustainability of the food chain, investigating risks from pests, diseases and climactic conditions as well as working with large and small businesses on safe packaging and consistency and providence of ingredients sourced by food manufacturers.
Its high-security and high-tech laboratories have been opened up to private businesses which could benefit from collaborating with the agency and like-minded businesses.
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