Darlington facility at heart of work to develop bioeconomy in Tees Valley
News article from the Northern Echo – 22nd January 2019
THE bioeconomy and efforts to foster better partnerships between researchers and businesses in the region was centre-stage at an event highlighting some of the collaborative approaches being taken.
Almost a year after being opened, the National Horizons Centre, in Darlington, has been showcasing some of its most innovative projects aimed at helping to grow the bioeconomy in the Tees Valley and further afield.
The Teesside University facility is being used by researchers involved in a range of projects, as diverse as developing sensors in prosthetics, medical diagnostics, developing food products like Quorn and identifying the contents of street drugs.
Laura Woods, director of academic enterprise at Teesside University, said: “There’s some really good stuff going on. This place has made a massive difference. One of our aims is to make sure we support the bioeconomy, nationally and here in the Tees Vally so we can link up with research and businesses and make sure we are providing people with the right skill sets and experiences. That’s one of the great challenges the sector faces.”
Stephen Cummins, dean of the school of science, engineering and design added: “We want to use this as a platform to spin out these skills to support the growth of the bioeconomy and underpin our ambition of growing our research.”
The Government’s 2018 bioeconomy strategy has established the need to use renewable biological resources to replace fossil resources in innovative products, processes and services in order to achieve national sustainability and carbon reduction targets.
Bioscience and biotechnology research is seen as a key driver in the circular economy by offering tools to enable progress in different fields, among them biorefining, marine and freshwater technologies, energy and waste conversion, food, feed and textile production, agriculture, health and much more.
It is part of the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s economic development strategy for the region.
The event in Darlington yesterday was delivered in partnership with Innovate UK and the Research England funded project THYME: Teesside, Hull and York Mobilising Bioeconomy Knowledge Exchange and will showcase collaborative approaches which are currently being undertaken to address the needs of the bioeconomy.
Speaking at the event, Yvonne Armitage, from Bioeconomy KTN, said: “We used to be a bioeconomy, then we found oil and now we’re going back again.
“In a survey seven out of eight people had no idea what the bioeconomy is but when people found out a bit more about it they thought it was something we should be doing.”