Biotechnology: £20 million funding boost for UK projects

The Catalyst was set up in January 2014 to support UK researchers and companies to work together to bring their biotechnology innovations to market and to help cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this sector.

It is funded by Innovate UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Paper ‘crumble’, algae, seaweed and polyester

The funding will enable the winning projects to undertake feasibility studies and industrial research in a wide range of intriguing areas. The Institute of Food Research is leading a feasibility study with partners Palm Paper LtdVireol Bio-Industries plc, and Lenzing to investigate turning paper ‘crumble’ destined for the landfill into fermentable sugars.

The Integr-algal project led by Algaecytes Ltd partnered by the University of Nottingham is exploring a new method for maximising the amount of Omega 3 oils that can be harvested from algae – ‘making fish oil without the fish’.

Dr John C Dodd of Algaecytes Ltd said:

We wouldn’t be able to do this project without funding from the Catalyst. It’s a big step forward towards developing a new process that has real commercial potential.

Biome Technologies and the University of Liverpool are looking at the technical and commercial feasibility of manufacturing bio-based polyester from cellulose-based compounds.

The SeaGas project, led by the Centre for Process Innovation is working on producing bio-methane fuel from seaweed by anaerobic digestion. Project partners include The Crown Estate, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture,the Scottish Association for Marine Science(SAMS)Queen’s University Belfast and Newcastle University.

Steven Broome, Head of Business and Projects – AD at CPI said:

This project brings together a powerful consortium that, for the first time ever, joins up the expertise and facilities needed to develop a methodology and commercial rationale for exploiting the UK’s seabed as a source of sustainable biomass and renewable energy. The idea could have remained stuck on paper – but support from the Catalyst has made this innovative project possible.

Merlin Goldman, lead technologist in high value manufacturing at Innovate UK, said:

The UK’s strength in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy is confirmed by this latest round of funded projects through the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst.

The Catalyst provides valuable support for research organisations and industry to work together or individually, to create innovations in energy generation, novel materials and biological processes.

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