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Celebrating 8 years of supporting Yorkshire & the Humber’s bioeconomy

This summer the BioVale team and our colleagues at the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) are celebrating the end of a series of programmes supporting the growth of the bioeconomy in the Yorkshire and Humber region. The programmes, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (part of the European Structural and Investment Growth Programme 2014-2020), have seen nearly £5 million invested in a technical programme of academic and business engagement supporting the development of bio-based processes and products, and the creation of my team, the BioVale Innovation Cluster, working across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Over the last 8 years we have engaged a wide range of players from the bioeconomy including; academics, SMEs, large companies and government bodies. Supporting them through the delivery of informative events, entrepreneurship training, networking events, disseminating the latest news from the bioeconomy and making connections to people that can help grow an idea.

However, the activity that I’d like to look back on and celebrate with this blog are the 240 ‘business assists’ that we have delivered.

The BioVale and BDC teams have thoroughly enjoyed working with local SMEs to de-risk and rapidly commercialise their bio-based innovations. Offering a full support package, we have provided market research analysis, regulatory scanning, specialist sector business advice, bid development, commercialisation and project management for those looking to develop their bio-based products or processes further than the lab.


Tailored support for local businesses

Here are some of the ‘business assists’ that the BioVale team enjoyed working on the most:

Boosting Broadmanor Consulting’s Business Profile

An image of Broadmanor Consulting's logo

BioVale Cluster Manager, Alice North, particularly enjoyed working with Broadmanor Consulting when she led a project to support increasing the business’s profile and customer base.

Broadmanor Consulting is a consultancy providing advice and support across the biofuels value chain for investors, suppliers and producers of bioenergy (including biogas from anaerobic digestion processes).

Alice facilitated a speaking slot for Broadmanor Consulting at a cluster event on ‘Biomass for Sustainable Biofuels’ organised in conjunction with the University of Hull and the CATCH supply chain organisation. The event can be viewed here. She also organised a workshop for researchers and entrepreneurs interested in potentially targeting biofuels as a primary market to provide an introduction to the sector and explore the latest trends as well as the risks and opportunities associated with commercialising new products and technologies. This workshop was attended by a number of businesses working in the anaerobic digestion sector as well as those from academia and several startup companies.

A photograph of people attending the Broadmanor Consulting biofuels eventAlice said, “I really enjoyed working on this project because Olivier from Broadmanor Consulting was extremely knowledgeable about the sector, having worked in biofuels development at BP for many years. It was also very interesting to learn about the potential for biofuels and meet entrepreneurs working in this space. Olivier highlighted a number of promising areas for biofuel development in his presentation and I’ll be fascinated to see if any of his predictions turn into reality.”

Marketing & promotional support for Mortimer Engineering Services

An image of Mortimer Engineering Services logo

BioVale Enterprise Manager, Chris Hiscocks particularly liked working with Chris Mortimer from Mortimer Engineering Services. Chris Mortimer is an apprentice-trained precision mechanical engineer with extensive design and manufacturing experience on a range of materials for research, development, pilot plant and production applications.

Chris Hiscocks was one of the team that supported Mortimer Engineering to exhibit at the World Biogas Expo 2023 at the Birmingham NEC. Pre-event support included purchasing the space, designing and producing promotional materials and promoting their attendance at the event. During the event, the team undertook customer discovery activities and facilitated business introductions.

A photograph of Chris Mortimer from Mortimer Engineering services talking to a customer at the World Biogas expo 2023

Chris Hiscocks said, “Chris (Mortimer) has an excellent service and thorough technical expertise but needed help to convey that to a trade show audience through a banner which I designed for him. We talked about some of his projects, came up with some short and clear messages to highlight what he offers, then produced some case study leaflets to showcase four examples of his engineering projects in more detail. I enjoy being visually creative and it gave me the chance to better understand his business. As a result we worked on further projects together.”

Helping Single Use Alternatives to grow their network and develop their messaging

An image of Single Use Alternative's logo

Emma Needham, Head of Communications, enjoyed working with Single Use Alternatives (SUA) who are an SME that supply biodegradable catering products as an alternative to single use plastics.

An image of a compostable cup

Emma and the team made several one-to-one introductions for them, including to academic researchers working on new bio-based packaging innovations, startups looking for support to bring their products to market and research organisations. Emma reviewed SUA’s website and helped produce a series of articles on composting, bio-based plastics, feedstocks, the case for bio-based, life cycle analysis and the future of packaging, as well as rewriting SUA’s key messages.

Emma said, “I enjoyed working on this project because it was researching the existing communications of Single Use Alternatives and suggesting new key messages and blog content to make their website and social media content more consistent and engaging with their target audiences.”

Customer discovery for Cromwell Polythene

Sara Goodhead, BioVale Cluster Administrator, found working with Cromwell Polythene particularly interesting. Cromwell Polythene are a local independent, family-run business that supply products for the capture and containment of waste and recyclables, including refuse sacks, bin liners, compactor sacks, compostable liners and much more.

The project involved acquiring an exhibition space at the World Biogas Expo

A photograph of Alex Lee from Cromwell Polythene speaking at the World Biogas Expo 2023

2023 at the Birmingham NEC. Prior to the Expo the BDC produced an SME spotlight feature article to promote Cromwell Polythene and their attendance via their communication and social media channels. The team also organised a speaking slot, undertook customer discovery activities and facilitated business introductions during the event.

Sara said, “Cromwell Polythene supplies biodegradable sacks to local authorities for the collection of food waste which is then generally treated by anaerobic digestion (AD). Prior to the World Biogas Expo Cromwell Polythene were particularly interested in finding out more about what AD operators thought about the behaviour of biodegradable sacks in the AD process. It was really interesting for me to interview representatives of the AD industry and find out their perspective on biodegradable sacks. I hope Cromwell Polythene found this insight useful when meeting new customers at the Expo”.

Looking towards the future

We’re sad to see our ERDF funding coming to an end this year, however we are currently exploring other sources of business advisory programme funding. In the meantime there are other ways that businesses can work with us. Follow this link to find out more.


A photograph of Sara Goodhead, BioVale Cluster Administrator

Sara Goodhead

BioVale Cluster Administrator


Featured image by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash