Energy project to support businesses across the Midlands

– Aims to stimulate business growth from new energy products and sources of income

– Companies to get expert advice to develop high-value products from waste

– Help for businesses to exploit energy markets and advanced control systems

Businesses across the West Midlands region are set to benefit from a new support programme developed by the world-leading European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University.

The Business Investment in Research project will work with businesses to use bioenergy and new energy systems to support growth through new products, cost saving and commercial opportunities.

Developed by the University’s European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), the project successfully bid for £1.37m from theEuropean Union European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). Aston University has agreed to match-fund this amount to help EBRI run the project.

Professor Alec Cameron, Vice Chancellor of Aston University said: “This new support programme is focused on deploying our UK-wide expertise in encouraging small and medium sized businesses to expand their horizons for their own benefit and that of the Midlands region. It is also about developing new opportunities in emerging and disruptive marketplaces.”

Aston University has a strong reputation for its entrepreneurial mind set and its success in nurturing and growing new businesses. The University mission is to be “the leading UK university for business, enterprise and the professions.”

The business support programme will run for three years and participants will benefit from specialist support and innovative technologies to help business start-up and growth, and the development of new products. EBRI will also run a series of events – including workshops and seminars – to help companies maximise new technical and commercial opportunities.

Tim Miller, Project Lead from EBRI, said: “This is a very exciting initiative. EBRI’s focus on business along with a well-established track record in applied research and technology allows us to offer some very significant opportunities for companies in the region.

“We can help businesses take advantage of our expertise on how, for instance, to turn waste products into energy, to produce new high-value materials from waste which can then be commericialised, as well as to manage their own energy use and generation better, using advanced control systems to optimise heating, cooling and electricity.”

The initiative will build on the success of a similar EBRI project supported with European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding that ran from 2012 to 2015. More than 200 organisations benefitted and according to HM Treasury “Green Book” methodologies the economic impact of EBRI business support included the creation of 65 jobs in the West Midlands, an increase of over £9 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) and a growth in RDI of more than £500,000.*

Business that benefitted from the earlier initiative ranged across the agricultural, engineering, waste management, construction, financial services and food manufacturing industries and included Agripellets Ltd, British Polythene Industries plc, Gas Data Ltd and Cwm Harry.

EBRI will be holding a series of roadshows across participating Local Enterprising Partnership (LEP) in the West Midlands to raise awareness of how SMEs can take advantage of their expertise. The LEPs include Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and the Marches.

Notes to the editor

* EBRI Interim Evaluation Report published June 2015

European Regional Development Fund
The project has received £1.37m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit

EBRI’s capabilities cover the breadth of advanced thermal technologies and biological conversion processes. These include gasification, pyrolysis, catalysis, and the thermochemical refining of biomass, wastes and plastics to high quality products and fuels. Allied to this is EBRI’s expertise in energy systems, supply chains, techno-economic analysis, transport logistics, analytics, engines and power systems. The institute welcomes collaboration opportunities with academia, government bodies and industry both locally and internationally and actively bids for new research and industrial engagement projects to bring further benefits to the Midlands region. For more information go to or email [email protected]  

Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned as an opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the university’s exciting journey.