High Value Biorenewables (HVB) Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Biology


The High Value Biorenewables Network will focus on the discovery, development and application of bio-based chemicals, tools and platform technologies.
Whilst the High Value Biorenewables Network builds on the successes of its predecessor network, the High Value Chemicals from Plants Network, it offers an exciting opportunity to widen the scope beyond plants. This broad scope will enable more biorenewable options to be considered, and consequently, greater likelihood of achieving an industrial biotechnology solution. The Network responds to both the needs of the existing cross-disciplinary community of researchers as well as the desire of industry and society for more biorenewable products and processes.
The Network's membership will be open to all, and the benefits will include access to a range of meetings, workshops and training activities. Academic members will be eligible to apply for funding for innovative research (particularly in areas where they are addressing an industrial problem) and will be able to gain support for their enterprise ideas. Initially membership will be free of charge, but we will work towards payment for membership benefits so that we eventually achieve a sustainable funding model.
The Network has a strong leadership team, with expertise in biorenewables from across academia and industry. Together with wider network expertise, we will address challenges that are common to the exploitation of biorenewables, such as discovery research, production systems and scale-up. This is essential if we are to achieve our objective of having more biorenewable products and processes.
Whilst the High Value Biorenewables Network will have a UK focus to support the bioeconomy and the Government's industrial strategy, it will also have an international aspect promoting the use of UK research capability to address developing world problems and working in collaboration with scientists internationally.

Technical Summary

Discovering, developing and producing High Value Biorenewable (HVB) feedstocks using industrial biotechnology approaches is a very attractive proposition to industry world-wide, as biorenewables have the potential to supersede environmentally damaging petrochemical derived feedstocks.
HVB will facilitate partnership between UK academia and industry, which is essential if we are to fully realise this opportunity for the UK's benefit. We have world-leading academic research in this space and many companies that could benefit from it. Technical expertise in analytical chemistry, phytochemistry, bioinformatics and genomics are essential components in the discovery stage of projects. Biocatalysis, biotransformation and metabolic engineering of host platforms and/or development of cell culture or whole organism production platforms are essential to progress potential opportunities. Other disciplines, like mathematics and computational modelling, can contribute to challenges arising from vast data sets. In addition, environmental and social scientists and economists can study life cycle analysis, consumer acceptance and economics of new processes.
Engagement of organisations like the Biorenewables Development Centre and BiopilotsUK can take projects out of the research laboratory in cases where direct uptake/scale-up by industry is not feasible. HVB members will represent many disciplines and cross-disciplinary approaches will be promoted to take ideas beyond proof of concept, so that issues such as scale-up design, freedom of access and regulatory approval are addressed at an early stage. Inspirational leadership will be provided by academic experts in complementary disciplines and a Management Board with a majority of industry representatives. HVB will facilitate networking, identify and fund training in areas of need, inspire new interest and ideas, and evaluate and fund proof of concept research and enterprise activities that are endorsed and supported by industry.

Planned Impact

The HVB Network aims to expand a cross-disciplinary community of research providers and users, providing an environment for building collaborative work that can address a much wider scope than has previously been possible. An independent consultation of existing HVCfP members conducted in June 2017 provided clear evidence that there is already considerable support from the existing HVCfP membership of academic researchers, technology providers, industry (from large international companies to SMEs) to extend and continue the activities conducted by HVCfP. The expanded scope proposed for the HVB Network will break down barriers and expand the relevance and consequently the impact across both academia and industry.
The Network will continue to encourage engagement with the wider public through outreach activities in addition to them being wider beneficiaries of research outcomes from the Network.
The Network will also act as an accessible forum for advice to UK and EU policy makers.
Specific benefits for different groups include:
1. For academics: interaction with industry to gain a greater understanding of their needs and how academic research can be of benefit to industry, contact with a wide cross-disciplinary network, access to flexible funding for small-scale proof of concept activities, opportunities for personal professional development, development of research consortia which can construct high quality grant proposals. In addition, early career researchers will benefit from developing their own networks, accessing training and working with senior colleagues on proof of concept projects. The wider scientific workforce such as technicians and technologists will also be encouraged to participate in the new network.
2. For technology providers, HVB will integrate their expertise, particularly seeking advice of how funded projects could be progressed along the Technology Readiness Levels.
3. For industry members, HVB offers the opportunity to provide leadership to guide research outputs through their support of and engagement with proof of concept activity funded through the Network's flexible fund. Consistent with the enthusiasm and support for the HVB network from industry, high value biorenewable products are recognised as being an important component of the IB sector and therefore the UK economy.
4. Policy makers who require evidence for strategies that support the application of IB to further the UK's bioeconomy can access the Network, particularly through the Leadership Team as a panel of experts in this area.
5. The general public will benefit from the outputs of HVB, leading to the sustainable production of novel and innovative biorenewable solutions to existing and emerging challenges. In addition, HVB engagement with this group will enable the uptake of IB research with greater public awareness.
HVB will have substantial funds to award - the funding criteria will ensure that impact is integral to the proposed research, while the flexible award structure will ensure a responsive approach to emerging challenges and opportunities. There are good indications that technology development rates will impact on the overall IB market - therefore the Network's proof of concept funds will have a focus on this area, utilising the excellent resources found within the UK's technology providers, such as BioPilotsUK.
High value biorenewables have the potential for major impact on industry and society. The future demand for bio-based products will be driven not only by the reduced availability and increased cost of fossil-based resources but also the potential for new products that cannot be achieved by synthetic chemistry routes alone. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the consumer demand for bio-based products, as more environmentally sustainable alternatives will promote the impact of the HVB's collaborative research.


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Description High Value Biorenewables is a network which works to promote discovery, development and application of bio-based chemicals, tools and platform technologies. We organise events and activities which facilitate partnership and knowledge transfer between UK academia and industry. In addition, we manage a Flexible Fund which offers funding for proof of concept studies, business interactions, enterprise fellowships and training awards.
The Network's aim is to offer excellent leadership to the industrial biotechnology community in the UK. We have a Management Board drawn from industry and academia to assist the Network's Executive Group in strategic direction, as well as supporting a robust review process for the Flexible Fund.
Exploitation Route To date (March 2020), we have: 450 current members, organised four events, awarded two proof of concept projects, two business interaction vouchers and one training bursary. In 2020, we will deliver a programme of events and have further funding calls.
Sectors Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL https://www.highvaluebiorenewables.net
Description High Value Biorenewables (HVB) is a phase II Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB). HVB currently has 439 individual members, with almost 30% from industry. HVB provides opportunities for industry and academia to develop new links, collaborations and capabilities. As such the network had a direct impact on the industrial biotechnology sector of the UK economy. HVB has an Executive Group comprised of the Network Director, Co-Directors and Manager which is supported by a Management Board with good representation from industry (Croda, Unilever, Oxford Biotrans, GSK, Leaf Systems International as well as two highly-experienced industrial consultants). To date, we have awarded funding to: two proof of concept projects, two business interaction vouchers and one training bursary. Using feedback from the membership and the Management Board, a programme of events and funding calls has been planned for 2020. All details are reported on the BBSRC-Extranet for this project: https://extranet.bbsrc.ac.uk/nibbp2/hvb/SitePages/Home.aspx
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Genomes to high value biorenewable products 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A workshop that explored the current status of genomic technologies and the use of gene tools in relation to High Value Biorenewable Products. The event included short talks from invited academic and industrial speakers to highlight key challenges and opportunities in this research area. A number of delegates also offered short presentations relevant to the workshop theme. This event was linked to HVB's first targeted Proof of Concept Funding call, which closed in September 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.highvaluebiorenewables.net/events/hvb-workshop-genomes-to-high-value-biorenewable-produc...
Description HPLC method development workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This was a training workshop - a two day hands-on HPLC method development workshop which covered analysis, method development and purification. The workshop was delivered by RLC Lab in Loughborough (https://www.rlclab.com/). This was a joint event with AlgaeUK and we funded 12 participants to be in trained in: HPLC theory & practice, method development, sample prep using solid phase extraction, online sample prep using column switching techniques and semi-prep liquid chromatography.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.highvaluebiorenewables.net/events/training-event-hplc-method-development-workshop/
Description HVB Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Annual networking meeting, demonstrating the outputs of the Network. With around 120 registered participants, this was a successful event which included two international speakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.highvaluebiorenewables.net/events/hvb-annual-meeting/
Description HVB Enterprise Fellowship workshop: Future Entrepreneurs in the Biobased Sector 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A one day workshop organised to equip HVB members to take their research ideas towards commercialisation. The main objective of the workshop was to support and prepare HVB members interested in applying for the HVB Enterprise Fellowship scheme. In addition, the content was widely applicable for people who are interested in pursuing future careers in bio-based enterprise. The workshop was delivered by BioVale (https://www.biovale.org), with the help of business mentors.
Content covered: Overview of the HVB Enterprise Fellowship scheme; developing your value proposition; introduction to the lean canvas business model; pitch preparation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.highvaluebiorenewables.net/events/hvb-enterprise-fellowship-workshop-future-entrepreneur...