WDA Seeks to Grow New Sector; BIO-PRODUCTS: Research into Creating a Sustainable Economy in Wales

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Byline: SION BARRY Business Editor

THE potential for using nature's products in a wide range of hi-tech industries could play a major role in boosting the rural economy.

The Welsh Development Agency has commissioned a study into sustainable and renewable materials, to ensure that Wales is in a position to take maximum advantage of the emerging bio-products sector.

The research - the first of its kind in Wales - will be undertaken by The Centre for Advanced and Renewable Materials at the University of Wales Bangor.

The aim is to collect the information needed to develop the bio-products industry and build an effective support strategy.

Bio-products - the term used for products that can be grown and harvested - are an important renewable resource and can range from chemicals extracted from plants for the pharmaceutical industry to fibres produced from flax, cotton or even nettles.

Dr Virginia Chamber, the WDA's technology and innovation director, said bio-products presented a sustainable opportunity to satisfy the world demand for materials and energy.

She added, "They are already used in many industries, but there is huge potential to increase this. There are a number of industries that could utilise renewable and sustainable materials to produce their products, including the composites industries.

"The need to develop this sector becomes increasingly important as we recognise the need to reduce the adverse impact of our activities on the environment.

"The opportunities are considerable for Wales and could have a significant impact on our rural economy and help develop a more sustainable economy generally."

Dr Chambers said the agency was committed to promote the role of new technology to help businesses in Wales move to a more sustainable pattern of production and to provide support to the development and implementation of this new technology.

The research will look at companies involved in bio-products technology, relevant current and proposed legislation and support strategies. …