YORK’S growing bio-economy is set to expand internationally as BioVale joins forces with its French counterpart in a move aimed at attracting multi-billion pound opportunities.

Based in York, BioVale is a new initiative working to support and promote the Yorkshire region as an international hub for the knowledge-based bio-economy.

This weekend the organisation, which is being developed in collaboration with the Biorenewables Development Agency, the University of York and the Food and Environment Research Agency, proved it’s not only the Tour de France boosting cross-channel relations.

On Saturday, BioVale and the French Industries & Agro-Resources (IAR) cluster signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The two organisations will now work to support research, boost the global bioeconomy, and open up multibillion pound opportunities for UK and French businesses.

The MoU was signed by the chairwoman of BioVale’s steering group, Professor Deborah Smith, and IAR’s head of international affairs Christophe Luguel.

The agreement has been hailed a “significant development” and is expected to lead to joint research and development projects, staff and student exchanges, shared access to facilities and co-operation on developing new markets.

Prof Smith said: “We want to work with the most innovative researchers and forward-looking companies in the world.

“Both partners have an impressive record of working with global industry partners and small businesses, and extensive collaboration between the two clusters will help us both to achieve much more in the future.”

President of the IAR cluster Dominique Dutartre, who was unable to attend the signing, said: “Of significance is shared access to demonstration facilities in novel areas, such as bio-refining techniques.”

“Such facilities are crucial for innovation. Through this partnership, we are creating exciting opportunities for large industry partners, and also for smaller enterprises that often don’t have resources to invest in facilities, however big the potential rewards.”

The MoU will be followed by a UK mission to Reims in September for the 7th European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bio-based Economy, hosted by IAR.

Councillor James Alexander, leader of City of York Council said: “We see clearly the potential for significant economic growth arising from this collaboration, for the city and beyond, as part of a global bio-economy.

“York is already at the forefront of global research and development activity in this area as home to an internationally competitive research and development base in the sector.

“This, coupled with the already strong business base across the wider region, makes Yorkshire and Humber uniquely positioned to take advantage of the inward investment, employment and export opportunities it will bring.”