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BioVale launches new special interest group at Hemp Happening!

The Hemp Happening event, organised by SCI Agrisciences and BioVale took place at York’s STEM Centre on 6 April 2022 and saw the launch of the Hemp Special Interest group. The event brought together organisations and individuals to discuss the production, processing and use of hemp.

A traditional UK crop, hemp is being further developed to provide solutions to current agronomic, economic, climate and biodiversity issues. The event focused on these challenges and opportunities around industrial hemp. The conference covered topics including agronomy, genetic improvement and regulation. It also addressed issues surrounding the commercialisation of hemp as a functional fibre in buildings, textiles and bio-composites.

The opportunity for the UK

The inspiration for the Hemp Happening event was the outcome of two recent projects:

  • The Yorkshire Hemp Supply Chain Map was commissioned by Grow Yorkshire, part of York and North Yorkshire’s Local Economic Partnership and mapped the end-to-end supply chain associated with the growing and production of hemp and hemp products in the Yorkshire region.
  • The HEMP 30 report for BEIS, led by the University of York and the BDC, detailed the potential extended range of products and uses of hemp and identified an opportunity to scale the industry to £700 million pounds in the UK within ten years, whilst sequestering or displacing one million tonnes of CO2 each year by 2030.

High value products

Speakers from a broad range of sectors and perspectives presented at the Hemp Happening event. Following the Keynote presentation on the Hemp 30 report given by Joe Ross, Director of the Biorenewables Development Centre, the first session focused on the high-value product potential of hemp seed oil.

  • Professor Ian Graham, University of York, explained his research into molecular breeding of novel high Oleic hemp seed varieties.
  • Dr Callie Seaman, MedCan Support, discussed the medical and therapeutic potential of Industrial Hemp.
  • and Barry Hilton, FERA, presented an overview of current legislation and limitations regarding Hemp and the production and processing of CBD.

Carbon sequestration and soil health

Dr Anna Sellars, SAC Consulting, drew on her research on carbon opportunities for hemp in agriculture. Anna highlighted the need for a joined-up approach to carbon accounting for hemp and a more rigorous life cycle analysis to be undertaken.

Diverse uses

The second session drilled down into hemp’s use as a functional fibre in buildings, textiles and bio-composites.

  • Dr Adrian Higson, Director NNFCC presented on hemp’s use in biobased materials and textiles
  • Alex Sparrow, Director UK Hempcrete, outlined hemp’s use in low carbon buildings
  • and Joshua Nusenbaum, SeFF Fibre, highlighted the need for further research and development into retting solutions to produce high quality (textile) fibres.

A call to action

The final session of the day provided a call to action by addressing the wider supply chain issues and opportunities.

  • Jamie Bartley, Unyte Hemp detailing the road to commercialising hemp, the trials and data his company has gathered and the willingness to build a community hub to facilitate knowledge transfer. Rebekah Shaman, British Hemp Alliance presented on the importance of hemp for a net zero future and the timeliness of acting now to address climate change.


The UK has an opportunity to move the hemp sector forward and become a leading force globally. However, concerted effort, investment, legislature change, and support are required to scale the industry to match the opportunities presented.

The Hemp Happening event culminated in the launch of the Hemp special interest group (SIG), which will be coordinated by BioVale, to connect and support growers, processors, producers, and suppliers from all along the hemp supply chain for the purpose of developing the hemp sector in the UK.

For more information on the Hemp Special interest group see here: https://www.biovale.org/what-we-do/business-support/hemp-special-interest-group/

For more information on the Hemp Happening event please see here: https://www.soci.org/events/agrisciences-group/2022/hemp-happening