- Aston University and local industry to develop technology to convert organic material into commercially valuable products
- Sawdust, diseased trees and dried chicken litter among what can be transformed into sustainable bioproducts
- West Midlands companies are invited to join a cluster to develop new low carbon products for growing markets.
Aston University is to receive £1.8 million to transform the West Midlands into a powerhouse of low-carbon product development and commercialisation.
The University will be building on its existing research facilities to lead the region’s Biochar CleanTech Accelerator as part of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator.
The project was set up with the aim to secure export contracts for low carbon products worth over £200 million, to be made by a regional industrial cluster.
It is hoped that the development of a low-carbon business cluster in the West Midlands will open up new domestic and export markets to help rebuild the region’s engineering and manufacturing status.
Biochar, a sustainable form of charcoal, can be used as a soil and plant growth enhancer. It stores carbon in the ground, so there are fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Other products such as oils can be used as low carbon fuels for boilers and engines and the liquid by-product can be used for low carbon weedkiller, fungicide and plant growth.
Aston University’s innovative technology is installed at its urban biochar demonstrator in south Birmingham.
The project is based on the strengths of the University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) and its Centre for the Circular Economy and Advanced Sustainability (CEAS).
Tim Miller, director of engagement at EBRI, said: “This new development has the potential to rebuild product development, engineering and manufacturing in our region.
“The project aims to commercialise knowledge, facilities and the results of long-term university research for the benefit of the environment and our regional economy.
“Using the University’s existing expertise and facilities we have the potential to launch new technology-based opportunities as they emerge and mature,
The Biochar CleanTech Accelerator is part of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator which was first announced in the government’s 2022 Levelling up White Paper and started this spring. It is funded through a share of a £100m from Innovate UK, to be divided by three regional innovation accelerators over the next two years.
Launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in March 2023, it will target investment on projects enabling new solutions around Medical and Clean Technologies, to further reinforce the region’s position at the frontier of the UK innovation revolution.
The University will also play a key role in two other projects in the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator.
Companies interested in joining the cluster can get further information at https://www.aston.ac.uk/biochar-cleantech-accelerator or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Notes to editors
The West Midlands Innovation Accelerator will bolster the region’s innovation and R&D capability and capacity to spark commercial growth and investment.
First announced in the Government’s 2022 Levelling up White Paper, the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator will commence in May 2023, funded through a share of a £100m fund from Innovate UK, to be divided by three regional Innovation Accelerators over the next two years.
Aims of the Innovation Accelerator include accelerating the region’s engineering research & development, boosting inward investment, and reinforcing the West Midlands’ position at the frontier of the UK innovation revolution by enabling businesses to develop new products, processes and services.
The West Midlands Innovation Board has targeted investment on projects enabling new solutions around Medical and Clean Technologies, following initial expressions of interest in June 2022.
About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston University is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.
In 2022 Aston University was ranked in the top 25 of the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.
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