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The vision for BioYorkshire

Professor Ian Graham discusses the globally ambitious BioYorkshire programme led by the University of York.
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BioYorkshire is a partnership based on innovation and led by the University of York with Askham Bryan College and Fera Science. Whilst these partners are based in York, BioYorkshire is a globally ambitious programme aiming to transform the UK’s bioeconomy through world class research and commercialisation facilities, a network of specialized business hubs, and training and skills support. This package of research, industrial support, and training is focussed on two areas. The first is the profitable, bio-based production of chemicals, materials and fuels. The second is productive, net-zero farming and wider land use. Building a resilient bioeconomy will rely on innovative research and technologies, new supply chains and skills, as well as strong partnerships with industry. BioYorkshire has an excellent track-record of working with industry.
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For example, projects on bioactive natural products for the pharmaceutical industry. These projects include developing new varieties of poppy, which now contribute to 80% of the global supply of noscapine-containing cough suppressant medicine, and also creating new, high-yielding varieties of Artemisia annua which produce artemisinin - an essential anti-malarial medicine. In terms of farming and land-use, what crops we grow and how we grow them needs to change, this diversification of our farming systems will be critical for net zero. We need crops and varieties that provide the maximum nutritional value, which are resilient to our changing climate, and resistant to the changing pressure of pests and pathogens.
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These new varieties need to be developed rapidly, and BioYorkshire has extensive expertise in rapid crop improvement - from oil crops to leafy vegetables, from commodities to neglected traditional crops - using new technologies such as large-scale data modelling and genome editing. BioYorkshire is designed to connect two priority industrial sectors, agriculture and chemicals. We will need to grow new crops that can provide feedstocks for the manufacturing bioeconomy. Furthermore, the UK’s bio-based wastes and agricultural by-products provide enough raw-materials for the chemicals industry 4-times over, offering a huge opportunity to move away from petro-chemicals to bio-based feedstocks and net-zero manufacturing.
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BioYorkshire will have scientists, engineers, economists and entrepreneurs all working together to make a difference and supplying industry and consumers with greener products and processes. We will be the epicentre of the UK’s bioeconomy and as such will attract inward investment in new, productive, bio-based businesses with high-growth export markets. BioYorkshire will contribute to net zero whilst also delivering profitable and sustainable technologies to transform the UK.

BioYorkshire is a globally ambitious programme led by the University of York with Askham Bryan College and Fera Science. BioYorkshire aims to transform the UK’s bioeconomy through world class research and commercialisation facilities, a network of specialized business hubs, and training and skills support.

Designed to connect two priority industrial sectors, agriculture and chemicals, BioYorkshire will have scientists, engineers, economists and entrepreneurs collaborating to develop the greener products and processes needed by industry and consumers.

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