The North of Tyne Combined Authority is backing the scientists of the future with plans to boost green technology and manufacturing in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

The plans will bring together entrepreneurs, universities, including Northumbria, and big business to make the region a leader in environmentally-friendly innovation for everyday consumer products.

Key to this will be the development of new technologies to make households, businesses and industry kinder to the environment and less wasteful of water, without compromising on the high quality, value and convenience expected by the public.

Politicians have approved a £1.3m contribution to the £2.7m Advancing Circular Economy (ACE) Research and Development (R&D) Demonstrator project in a recent meeting of the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) cabinet.

Northumbria University is a member of the ACE consortium of Procter & Gamble (P&G’s) Newcastle Innovation Centre, which also includes Newcastle University, Prozomix Ltd., CPI and the Innovation SuperNetwork. Together they will build partnerships with other companies that would benefit from the knowledge, expertise, facilities and capabilities on offer.

This could include those in the food and drink industry, oil and gas, renewables, utilities, chemicals, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics, construction or other sectors.

Northumbria academics from the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment will be involved in creating a unique integrated enzyme and probiotic discovery platform to rapidly identify, develop and commercialize novel enzymes and probiotics for applications that make households more environmentally friendly.

Professor George Marston, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at Northumbria University, said: “Knowledge exchange and collaboration are vital in order to address global challenges such as sustainable economic growth, and we are proud to be working as part of the ACE consortium to really drive this forward.

“At Northumbria University, we’re committed to optimising our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through our research, teaching, campus and operations, so we are well placed to play a key role in putting the North East on the map as global leaders in innovative solutions for sustainability.“

Taking on global sustainability and creating jobs

Led by global company P&G whose brands include Ariel, Fairy and Lenor, the ACE Demonstrator project will have three priorities; to identify new and more sustainable biotechnologies for everyday cleaning products, to find new ways to reduce domestic water consumption, and to investigate the potential for a new green technology centre in the North of Tyne.

The ACE Demonstrator project will support the creation of 49 jobs and safeguard 40 others, while creating opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for students and teachers in schools across North of Tyne.

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Business Competitiveness and Leader of Newcastle City Council Councillor Nick Forbes said: “There’s no way we can go on consuming and discarding the earth’s resources at the rate we are currently.

“The latest figures from Defra show that UK households produced just under 27 million tonnes of waste in 2017. That’s equivalent to 409kg per person.

“This is a unique opportunity to make the North of Tyne a world-leader in addressing global sustainability and creating modern, unique solutions to these challenges.

“That means finding ways to tackle issues such as waste recycling, energy and water access, and the use of renewable materials.

“We’ll do it by connecting and supporting financially those with the skill, talent, and ability to create jobs in the advanced circular economy, which is an emerging sector of global significance.”

Expertise and collaboration

As a region, the North East boasts everything needed for success in the ACE field.

The North of Tyne in particular is home to major process industries and biotechnology businesses, smaller technology providers, leading universities and strong partnerships with UK Catapults – which are a network of world-leading technology centres designed to boost innovation and economic growth.

Connecting and coordinating these institutions will encourage development of the next generation of environmentally friendly products.

Rhona Knox, P&G Vice President, Global R&D said: “I am delighted that P&G, Newcastle & Northumbria Universities, Prozomix, CPI, ISN and NTCA are partnering to enable the North East to become global leaders in creating green products and solutions.

“This partnership is in line with P&G’s Ambition 2030 environment sustainability framework which is about ensuring we grow responsibly, make our business more resilient, and better serve consumer needs in a resource-constrained world.

“P&G has set goals in four areas that we believe will be good for consumers, good for the planet and good for business.

“In addition to these ambitious targets, on 16th July 2020, P&G announced an acceleration of its efforts to tackle climate change, with a new commitment to be carbon neutral across its operations for the decade.

“The products and solutions that will be created by the ACE project demonstrate how P&G and its brands are committed to be a force for good and a force for growth and we aspire to attracting other partners who can do the same for their companies.”

Find out more about the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment, the world’s first research hub to create Living Buildings.