Arc Universities

Two companies based in the Bioinnovation Hub at Oxford Brookes University’s Enterprise Centre have been awarded Government funding to develop food products using sustainable, low-carbon processes.

The teams at Sun Bear Biofuture and Fermtech are both passionate about protecting the environment. The companies have each been awarded funding from the prestigious Innovate UK scheme for their work. Innovate UK is the Government’s flagship grant programme. It awards £125 million to British businesses every year for tech and innovation based projects.

Sun Bear Biofuture was awarded a £500,000 Innovate UK Smart Grant to further its research into developing an alternative to palm oil, which is widely used as an ingredient in common foods such as cake and biscuits and household products such as shampoo. The Sun Bear Biofuture team is developing a yeast strain that can produce commercially viable quantities of oil through fermentation and cutting edge scientific research and development. Their estimates predict a land use saving of 80% and a carbon reduction of 80% on current oil palm production.

Fermtech recently received a £50,000 Transformative Technologies grant from Innovate UK to support the next stage of its research to develop technology for producing protein from food waste. Fermtech also received £50,000 from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), and was voted the partnership’s Most Innovative Company. Fermtech uses fungi grown on spent grains from the Oxford-based Tap Social Movement’s brewery to extract protein for use in vegan cheeses. CEO Andy Clayton, said:

“Fungi are the world’s natural decomposers. They are great at turning waste into things of value. In the near future we’re all going to experience more and more products that contain or are made by fungi. I’m proud to be from Oxford and to be working out of the Oxford Brookes Bioinnovation Hub, part of the Enterprise Centre. It’s the perfect place for us to develop our products.”

Companies based at the Oxford Brookes Enterprise Centre benefit from being close to the university community at the heart of the Headington Campus. Some of the companies employ Oxford Brookes University students as research assistants, giving them real-life work experience alongside their studies. Professor Simonetta Manfredi, Director of Research and Innovation for Oxford Brookes University, added:

“I’m delighted to see innovative start-up companies based in our Enterprise Centre attracting prestigious awards and Government grants. Their work is important to help the UK hit net zero climate goals and to create a strong cluster of related enterprises creating high-worth jobs here in Oxford. They have a mutually beneficial relationship with Oxford Brookes University, developing projects with our staff, bringing their industry and enterprise experience into the classroom and providing work opportunities for students to help them start their careers.”

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