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Biorenewables Development Centre receives funding to propel biofibre supply chain development in Yorkshire

Updated: Apr 30

The Biorenewables Development Centre are pleased to announce the allocation of funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, through North Yorkshire Council, facilitating a groundbreaking 15-month initiative aimed at advancing the biofibre supply chain in Yorkshire.

York and North Yorkshire is well placed as a Biofibre Hub, boasting around 40% of the UK's hemp and flax production, with the full spectrum of end-to-end supply chain within and around this region. The Biofibre Special Interest Group will prioritise activities related to production, processing, and market expansion of natural fibres for construction materials, biocomposites in advanced manufacturing, woven and on woven textiles, and bioenergy, benefiting stakeholders in a number of ways.

  • Farmers and landowners - knowledge exchange events exploring production as a rotation crop, boosting soil health, carbon and biodiversity net gain.

  • Processors and manufacturers - supporting collaboration and innovation and closing the gaps between growers and processors 

  • Construction, textiles, and biocomposites - exploring fibre specifications and quality standards through a knowing sharing platform 

  • Regional innovators and entrepreneurs - stimulating the development of new products from annual crop fibres, in support of a shared goal to achieve Net Zero targets by 2030. 

Helen Shiels, Business Innovation Manager at the Biorenewables Development Centre, "We would like to say a special thank you to Grow Yorkshire and the team at North Yorkshire Council for their help in securing this funding to launch the Biofibre Special Interest Group. This allows us to support landowners, farmers, processors and manufacturers to collaborate and share best practices in natural fibre production, advancing our shared goal of achieving net zero by 2030. The group brings together the supply chain from the natural fibre growers (hemp, flax and other natural fibres), the primary and secondary processors, manufacturers and end customers and the researchers working on innovations to advance natural fibres.

We’re really looking forward to working with our industry and regional partners, Grow Yorkshire, Elsoms Seeds, East Yorkshire Hemp, Harrison Spinks, IndiNature and SHD composites - who are already providing specialist input and insights to help map the supply chain opportunities and start to generate real value from natural fibres that are good for soil health, biodiversity and can make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions through their short rotation growing cycles."

Mark Blakeston, Business Lead for Grow Yorkshire, "The securing of funding for a dedicated Biofibre Special Interest Group is fantastic news for our region. North Yorkshire has the potential to be a national, even global, leader in the production and supply of biofibres and it's essential that we invest in this exciting and innovative sector.

Building on previous research commissioned by Grow Yorkshire, our hope is that this Special Interest Group will allow farmers and rural landowners to explore how they could make biofibre production part of their existing crop rotation to improve soil health, increase biodiversity and add value to their business. We want to raise awareness of how crops like hemp and flax can be used in industries such as construction and textiles whilst developing the associated supply chains in the region."

This initiative aligns with the York and North Yorkshire Route map to Carbon Negative, with a key focus on fortifying the biofibre supply chain. By fostering low carbon farm diversification opportunities and promoting collaboration for net zero innovation, the project aims to enhance and protect the region's natural capital while fostering green industries and supply chains that contribute to carbon sequestration.

Spaces are limited for our first Biofibre Special Interest Group event - Thursday 18th June, at the Harrison Spinks Hornington Manor site - exploring the market pull for natural fibres and why grown fibres are attracting so much interest from farmers and product manufacturers around the UK.

For media inquiries and further information, please contact - Helen Shiels and Sara Goodhead at the  Biorenewables Development Centre  

Biorenewables Development Centre

The Biorenewables Development Centre (a subsidiary of the University of York) is an open-access Research, Development and Demonstration organisation working at the interface between academia and industry to develop, scale-up and help commercialise bio-based products and processes. It provides clients with innovative ideas to convert plants, microbes and biowastes into profitable, high-value, greener products. The Centre offers a broad variety of technical services using state-of-the-art integrated R&D facilities in the fields of chemistry and biology. Businesses are supported by delivering desk-based assessments (e.g. market research, facilitating connections across the bioeconomy sector, and helping companies to find value across their supply chain). The BDC also has expertise in bioeconomy cluster building activities offering support to build partnerships or collaborations in the bioeconomy.

York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority

The York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority has been created by the City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council and is a legally recognised, single body. Our role is to use some of the money and powers that up to now have been held by central government, and work with local leaders and communities to invest in ways that will help to make York and North Yorkshire a better place for you to live, work and do business. The Combined Authority will be led by the York and North Yorkshire Mayor, chosen by you in elections on 2 May 2024.

UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF)

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

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