Bio-economy innovation recognised

The BEACON Bio-refining Centre of Excellence, an innovative research centre dedicated to developing industrial products from plants to reduce reliance on fossil-based resources such as coal and gas, has been shortlisted for the European Commission’s RegioStarts Awards 2014.

Bangor University (where the work is led by the BioCmposites Centre) and Swansea University contribute to this collaboration led by Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS).

Researchers at BEACON work with industry, including small and medium sized enterprises, to develop renewable materials, fuels and chemicals as well as modified and new processes which are more sustainable from an environmental and economic perspective.

It is one of four projects to be shortlisted in the “Sustainable growth: Green growth and jobs through Bio-economy” category.

The RegioStars Awards recognise Europe's most inspirational and innovative regional projects. Based on four key criteria - innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership – BEACON is one of 19 finalists have been selected for the 2014 awards from 80 projects supported by European Union Cohesion Funds.

Professor Iain Donnison from IBERS at Aberystwyth University and Director of BEACON said: “This is excellent news and is international recognition of the importance of the innovative work being done by BEACON.

“The concept behind BEACON has been driven by the challenging targets for renewable energy adoption and reductions in greenhouse gas emission, set by the European Union and by the two global challenges facing humankind – energy security and climate change.”

“Low carbon technologies including biorefining and industrial biotechnology are seen as important growth sectors and will need sustainable supply chains to generate economic activity and jobs in rural communities as well as in towns and cities, and it is these that provide the focus for the work being done at BEACON,” he added.

Adam Charlton, Beacon project manager at Bangor University said:
“BEACON is currently the UK’s largest biorefining project, and has enabled Bangor University to invest in new staff and equipment. This allows us to offer a unique capability to Welsh businesses. BEACON is promoting Welsh scientific expertise in green technologies across the UK, Europe and increasingly other regions such as the USA.”

The finalists will showcase their work on 8 October during the 11th annual European Week of Regions and Cities, and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Brussels on 31March 2014.

The other three shortlisted projects are Ecoponto em casa from Portugal, ORGANEXT from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and ARBOR which has partners from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Belgium.

Seventeen member states are represented by the finalists: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.BEACON is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), part of the Welsh Government, under the Convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

Further information about BEACON

The full list of finalists and further information about RegioStars Awards is available online here.

Publication date: 2 September 2013