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The THYME project has been awarded funding of £1.8m from Research England to continue a highly successful collaboration between the Universities of Teesside, Hull and York.

The universities will continue to work together to develop innovation assets and drive increased productivity in the bioeconomy across the Tees Valley, the Humber and Yorkshire. The innovations kick-started by THYME will not only help to boost economic growth, but also pave the way to a more sustainable future where industry uses renewable sources of raw materials.

Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) Director, Joe Ross, explained: “For the past three years, the engagement and enthusiasm of all the staff across the three universities have been exceptional. They have found new and innovative ways to work together and to reach out to bio-based businesses and other regional stakeholders.”

Susan Brench, CEO of Starbons, added: Via THYME proof of concept funding we were able to access specialist equipment and expertise at the BDC and Teesside University, to successfully develop our methodology of using damaged starch for the potential use in preserving vitamins and also in the fabrication of novel Starbon® products. We are also delighted to have received further funding and are now working on the next steps to scale up our research.”

THYME is led by the University of York and delivered in partnership with the BDC and BioVale. The additional funding runs from July 2021 to June 2022. 

The project has a number of objectives that it will achieve through a range of activities, including:

Progress projects to commercial opportunities

THYME has recently awarded the three universities a further £1m to develop 20 projects with industry to drive growth in the region’s bioeconomy and help tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.   

Engage academics and industry

A further series of ‘intercluster’ webinars and face-to-face networking events involving BioVale (York), NEPIC (Teesside) and CATCH (Hull) will continue to connect academics and companies from across the region.

Develop strategic industrial partnerships

Strategic partnerships will be developed between regional industry and the THYME universities to address innovation challenges. Knowledge exchange beyond the region will also be addressed by aligning capabilities and best practice with BioPilotsUK and Brightlands at Maastricht University.

Support the bio-based entrepreneurs of the future

Three further entrepreneurial training workshops will be offered to university staff, PhD students and SMEs working in the bioeconomy. Outreach activities will address the well-documented skills gaps by incorporating content on careers and skills needed for a successful career in the bioeconomy industries.

Create a commercial digital product

The Virtual THYME Region (VTR) project which maps the regional bioeconomy, will be further developed into an interactive complex map that can be used by businesses to identify potential clients and suppliers, assist with the green and levelling up agendas of government and, ultimately, driving growth in the bioeconomy.

Engaging the public and school children

THYME is developing a set of novel tools to engage with wider audiences and to help understand what the bioeconomy is and why it matters.

These include: a unique exhibition of new, bio-based products, interactive school workshops in the newly developed Bioeconomy Outreach Centre, and an educational board game which has been sold internationally.

THYME is creating a virtual reality computer simulation of the region’s bioeconomy that will help to inform and stimulate discussion - this will now be developed further.

Key takeaways

  • The THYME Project, a collaboration between the Universities of Teesside, Hull and York, has been awarded a further £1.8m funding to continue its work to support the growth of the bioeconomy for each region.
  • The project supports bio-based innovations and businesses, promoting sustainability and the circular bioeconomy.
  • More information about the THYME project can be found at: https://thyme.biovale.org/.

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Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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