Investment supports pioneering industrial biotechnology work
The Government is investing £12 million in a Wilton Centre-based project which will further develop industrial biotechnology (IB).
Funding has come from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills to create open access demonstrator facilities.
The Government will also provide £2.5 million to support companies using the facilities and match funds from the Technology Strategy Board for new projects related to industrial biotechnology.
Building on work already done at The Wilton Centre by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), including the National Industrial Biotechnology Facility (NIBF), the development will cement the Tees Valley's leading position in the sector.
The NIBF has already been providing testing facilities for new industrial biotechnology products and processes, but industry leaders indicated that facilities are required on a larger scale to ensure further development.
Lord Drayson, Minister for Science & Innovation, said: "This investment in an industrial biotech demonstrator will give a real boost to green jobs in the North East and to the chemicals industry in the UK."
The new national facilities will be tailored to the development and testing of the production of alcohols, biodiesel and low-volume speciality and higher value chemicals from renewable biomass feedstocks and through biocatalysis.
They will immediately create 15 jobs and it has been estimated that, when fully operational, they could directly support between 10 and 40 new jobs per annum. It is also hoped that this investment will help safeguard existing jobs in the industry.
It is planned that the open access demonstrator facilities will be fully operational by October-December 2010.
Regional Development Agency One North East, which works closely with CPI, has earmarked up to £1.5 million to support the project.
Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of One North East, said: "This new facility will encourage more investment into the area and position the Tees Valley at the forefront of changes in the process sector."
Nigel Perry, Chief Executive of CPI, said: "I am delighted at this investment and it will help bring further jobs to CPI and the North East and aid UK companies to better access the opportunities IB presents in the global market place."