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Business Minister learns of bioenergy opportunities in the West Midlands

Business Minister Visits EBRI
From left to right: MP Michael Fallon, Ian Forsyth of Cofley District Energy, Aston VC Professor Dame Julia King and EBRI Director of Operations, Tim Miller

10 January 2014 

Business Minister Michael Fallon visited the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University in Birmingham (9 January) to see the innovative sustainable energy solutions and business collaboration opportunities being developed by the Institute.   

Mr Fallon was given a tour of EBRI’s bioenergy research laboratories and its unique Pyroformer™/Gasifier pilot power plant which converts waste products such as wheat husks and sewage sludge into useful forms of renewable energy.  

The Minister heard how EBRI and the University are supporting businesses to maximise bioenergy opportunities which includes providing facilities for organisations to try out new products and processes within the bioenergy field and develop these for market.  

As part of his visit, Mr Fallon met two West Midlands businesses who are working with EBRI. Dytecna, a leading independent engineering solutions company, traditionally based within the defence industry, has been working with EBRI to develop a new bioenergy technology prototype.

Cofley District Energy which runs district energy schemes in major cities across the UK, including Birmingham, has been working with EBRI to explore how technology developed by EBRI researchers could feed into its Birmingham scheme.  Both organisations are based in the West Midlands and have been working with EBRI through a European Regional Development Fund project.   

Professor Dame Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said EBRI’s aim was to help businesses to be innovative and to consider alternative energy solutions. She said: “The University has engineering and business at its core and we have been able to unite these two strengths together within the European Bioenergy Research Institute to provide vital bioenergy support to businesses. 

“Michael Fallon’s visit to the European Bioenergy Research Institute has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world-class bioenergy facilities we have created in the heart of Birmingham.”  

New and innovative techniques in bioenergy present strong business opportunities for growth and jobs. The EBRI's progress in this field shows the benefits of opening up excellent research facilities to forward-thinking businesses

Speaking during his visit, Michael Fallon said: "New and innovative techniques in bioenergy present strong business opportunities for growth and jobs. The EBRI's progress in this field shows the benefits of opening up excellent research facilities to forward-thinking businesses." 

Professor Tony Bridgwater, Director of EBRI, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses to exploit bioenergy opportunities available to them, especially those resulting from our own research activities, and in-turn to stimulate the economy, particularly SMEs. With the launch of the €70b Horizon 2020 Fund on 1 January, EBRI’s work in supporting these organisations to realise bioenergy opportunities has never been more crucial.”  

Michael Fallon was appointed Minister for Business and Enterprise in September 2012 and in March 2013 he was also appointed as Minister of State for Energy. He has been the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks, Kent, since 1997. 

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For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or j.garbett@aston.ac.uk