European funding awarded to support Yorkshire’s bio-based businesses.

28 November 2016

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is providing £1.79M to support the growth of Yorkshire businesses that deliver products, processes or services related to renewable, biological resources. The funding will be used to help establish the region as an internationally recognised leader in this fast-growing ‘bioeconomy’ sector.


The production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, energy, chemicals and other materials is referred to as the bioeconomy.

The funding announcement comes just days after the government asked York to lead a consortium of universities, research establishments, Local Enterprise Partnerships and industry to carry out a comprehensive audit of the bioeconomy of the North of England.

Exports of bioeconomy products are rising rapidly worldwide: from 9.8% of world trade in 2007 to 12.6% in 2014. The Yorkshire and Humber region has a large and thriving bioeconomy, which generates around £18 billion worth of goods and services a year. There is huge potential to grow the region’s contribution to this rapidly expanding sector further, driving regional economic growth and creating high-quality sustainable jobs.

The new funding has been awarded to the University of York, who will invest it in two key activities:

  • The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) will deliver a three-year business support programme to help regional businesses develop novel processes and products based on plants or microbes.
  • BioVale will work to establish the Yorkshire and the Humber as a world-leading region for innovation in the bioeconomy by: facilitating networking and dialogue, building international collaboration, encouraging trade and investment and coordinating specialised training.

This funding complements £2.4m awarded to the University in 2015 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to help grow the UK’s bioeconomy.

Professor Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York and Chair of the BioVale steering group, said: “The University of York has research and expertise relevant to the bioeconomy that is world-class. This funding is further recognition of that fact and will support BioVale’s important role in maximising the impact of the University’s work on the regional bioeconomy.”

Dr Joe Ross, Director of the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) said: “This grant is good news for the region’s small and medium-sized businesses, who can now benefit from funded business support to develop novel processes or products using plants, wastes or microbes.”


Notes to editors

BioVale is an initiative to develop and promote innovation for the bioeconomy across Yorkshire and the Humber.  It is a non-profit company, led by a steering group with representatives from industry, academia and local government.

The BDC is a University of York subsidiary, working at the interface between academia and industry to develop, scale-up and commercialise new technologies using biomass and biowastes.

The project is receiving up to £1.79M of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit