Landmark alliance launched to support the growth of the UK bioeconomy

Glasgow, 19 October 2016. Five established R&D centres across the UK have today announced a new alliance, BioPilotsUK. This alliance will seek to position Britain as a global leader in biorefining technology development and bio-based product manufacture – two key elements of the bioeconomy.

The founding centres are BEACON (Wales), the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC – York), the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI – Redcar), IBioIC (Scotland) and The Biorefinery Centre (Norwich).

BioPilotsUK brings together the nation’s leading expertise and facilities to help innovative ideas navigate the so called “valley of death” by demonstrating new bio-based processes and products at a commercially-relevant scale, in turn helping clients invest in the right technologies to grow their businesses.

“What we are all about is supporting the transition away from fossil resources by making the best use of biorenewable materials and unavoidable wastes,” expands Adam Charlton, BEACON Project Manager, BioComposites Centre, Bangor University. “As an alliance, we can significantly de-risk the innovation process for anyone exploring a bio-based idea.”

By working collaboratively, the alliance seeks to significantly speed up the commercialisation of new green processes and products from biomass, including: plants, algae, and wastes.

“Together we offer the skills, facilities and industry experience to help our partners tackle all manner of bio-based projects such as turning food by-products into pharmaceuticals, improving anaerobic digestion processes or developing batteries from biomass,” notes Joe Ross, Director, BDC.

Due to the varied nature of these raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach to biorefining, rather a series of technologies that must be trialled and combined. Now, the new alliance can quickly assemble the right team for any given bio-based project using expertise and facilities from across the five centres.

“The five founding open-access centres have developed a wealth of experience in blending the right processes and technologies to translate bio-based innovations into commercial opportuni­ties for our clients and partners. We want this alliance to make that an even more effective experience and in particular to accelerate the creation and growth of more SMEs in this sector” explains, Frank Millar, Director of Operations at CPI.

“The UK has huge potential for developing its bio-based and industrial biotechnology (IB) sectors. The breadth and depth of experience, knowledge and equipment of the alliance, will help companies across Scotland, England and Wales to harness these opportunities faster and more cost effectively,” says Roger Kilburn, CEO, IBioIC.

The bioeconomy offers a multi-billion-pound, global business opportunity: it is worth around €2 trillion in Europe alone and is growing rapidly worldwide. Offering the potential to deliver greater business value through social, environmental and financial benefits, it is estimated that the UK bioeconomy is already worth £153 bn in gross value-added (GVA) terms, generating over 4M jobs*.

“BioPilotsUK will enable Britain to realise the potential to tap both bioresources and biotechnology to create novel industrial products and processes necessary for an economically and environmentally sustainable nation,” concludes Keith Waldron, Director, the Biorefinery Centre.

The announcement comes at the opening of annual market-leading conference, the European Forum in Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB) 2016, which is being held in Glasgow this year.

* “Biotech Britain: An assessment of the impact of industrial biotechnology and bioenergy on the United Kingdom economy” Capital Economics, June 2015.


For further information, visit us on stand 9 at EFIB or contact:

Becky Fields
Marketing Executive

Notes to editors:

About Biorefining

Biorefining provides a profitable, sustainable alternative to our reliance on traditional oil-refineries. Not only does it present a way of becoming less reliant on fossil resources, it also offers new sources of high-value products from plants, algae and biomass as well as innovative ways of adding value to unavoidable wastes and by-products.
Biorefining technologies form the lynch-pin of the emerging bioeconomy which offers a multi-billion-pound global business opportunity and is already worth €2 trillion in Europe alone. In the UK, the bioeconomy is rapidly gaining traction; with both the UK and Scottish governments developing bioeconomy and biorefining strategies respectively to make the most out of our nation’s resources and harness the economic opportunities.

About BioPilotsUK

BioPilotsUK is a collaboration created by five established biorefining open-access centres who recognise the importance of partnerships to develop UK bio-based value chains. Our founding centres include: Beacon (Wales), Biorenewables Development Centre (York), CPI (Wilton), IBioIC (Scotland) and The Biorefinery Centre (Norwich). Together, we de-risk the commercialisation of bio-based products and processes by trialling new technologies to ensure our partners are investing in the right technologies for their business. Our vision is to position the UK as a global leader in biorefining technology development and bio-based product manufacture within a sustainable high-value bioeconomy.

About the founding centres

  • BEACON based across Wales, is led by Aberystwyth University in collaboration with partners at Bangor and Swansea Universities. Beacon focuses on the development of a viable Welsh bioeconomy through the expansion of green supply chains.
  • The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC), based in York, England, helps bio-based organisations develop greener processes and products from biomass/-wastes using their multi-disciplinary approach to biorefining and flexible scale-up facilities.
  • The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), based in Redcar, England, is the process arm of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult offering state-of-the-art facilities and technical expertise to help clients to de-risk process development.
  • The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), based in Glasgow, Scotland, has a multidisciplinary team of experts in the IB sector, as well as two bioprocessing centres which can support trials at pre-commercial scale.
  • The Biorefinery Centre in Norwich, England, is located within the Institute of Food Research and has a Cambi™ Steam Explo­sion Pilot Plant and yeast screening and propagation facility.


Some of the BioPilotsUK partners receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Work with us

Can we help you?

We've already developed over 450 projects for organisations large and small – will your business be one of them?

Get in touch