UK-India collaboration tackles sugarcane industrial waste


The £1.8M project, sponsored by the Newton Bhabha Fund, brings together UK, Indian companies and academics to work in partnership to reduce industrial waste and generate innovation in industrial biotechnology. The project partners will share knowledge and expertise to develop methodology to use the sugarcane processing waste streams as feedstocks for the production of the valuable bio-based chemical, citric acid. If successful, the partners expect to provide enough proof-of-concept data to attract further investment for scaling-up these pilot-scale methods to commercial manufacture.

The consortium includes Indian partners: the International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology and Natems Sugar Ltd. UK partners are the University of York, the Biorenewables Development Centre, Jesmond Engineering, Prozomix and Wilson Bio-Chemical.

The Biorenewable Development Centre’s involvement will be to scale up the production of citric acid through the fermentation of improved Aspergillus niger production strains developed by other project partners. These improved strains will be grown using the complex sugars derived from the sugarcane waste materials

India is the world’s second largest producer of sugar, and the industry is one of the largest rural employers. However, with all this productivity comes significant industrial waste in the form of bagasse – the fibrous material left after crushing the sugarcane plant. This international consortium will work together to tackle this issue – project updates to follow.

Other project information

Press release on the funding announcement 

About the Newton Bhabha Fund

The Newton-Bhabha Fund is a high-profile programme funded by The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, both part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as well as the Department for Biotechnology (DBT) India. The programme supports collaborative UK-India research programmes which focus on critical socio-economic challenges relevant to international development.