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Swansea to become UK leader in natural products innovation

Credit: Swansea Council

Helping tackle climate change, Swansea is set to become a UK leader in the natural product research and enterprise sector.

Swansea University has successfully bid for £587,000 from Swansea Council for a Natural Products BioHUB project through the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund.

Natural products are substances or compounds found in nature, marine organisms, bacteria, fungi, and plants.

The Natural Products BioHUB aims to encourage wider use of natural products in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries to help develop a healthier, greener and more sustainable city and region.

The project will:

  • Support the growth of local bio-based or biotech businesses by providing research and development expertise. This will include start-up and spin-out businesses.
  • Lead to new natural product developments and services thanks to the collaboration of academic expertise and industry. This will include the networking of bio-based and biotech companies with data science and robotics companies.
  • Boost communities by improving green infrastructure and enabling access to nature-based local products.
  • Benefit local businesses because of the increased footfall that planned networking activities and international conferences would create.
  • Explore opportunities to work with bio-based and biotech companies looking to relocate to the Swansea Bay City Region.

Dr Farooq Shah, of Swansea University, said: “The project fast-tracks translating cutting-edge research into eco-friendly nature-based products, fostering economic gains through spin-outs, startups, and investments. It will help promote local opportunities, workforce involvement, and policy development to address local and global challenges.”

Professor Tariq Butt and Professor Dan Eastwood said: “Swansea University is at the forefront of developing greener and more sustainable technologies, and the Natural Products BioHUB will allow cooperation with innovative industrial partners to achieve growth and environmental wellbeing for future generations.”

Swansea University will also work with Swansea Council and Hacer Developments to explore funding sources that could help establish an incubation hub at the ‘biophilic building’ development now under construction at Picton Yard in the city centre. The hub would offer lab and offices spaces for start-ups and spin-outs.

Carwyn Davies, Managing Director of Hacer Developments, said: “This concept is an exciting innovation that aligns so well with our own aspiration for the biophilic building. It’s been great working with the team at Swansea University, and we’re excited about taking this forward for the city.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “The Natural Products BioHUB project is very worthy of our support as it has enormous potential not just to place Swansea at the heart of global natural products innovation but also to contribute to a healthier, greener and more sustainable city in future.

“Its focus on local start-up and spin-out businesses in the bio-based and bio tech sector will also create skilled job opportunities for local people, while helping encourage other businesses in this sector to relocate to Swansea, further boost our local economy and generate even more employment.

“The project will complement all the work the council and our partners in the public and private sectors are doing to help create a carbon net zero city.”

As well as the ‘biophilic building’ development, other examples of this work include a variety of eco-friendly features due to be included in the 71/72 Kingsway office scheme developed by the council. The council has also introduced lots more greenery in the city centre, with examples including the Kingsway infrastructure project to boost its look and feel. The coastal park close to the Maritime Quarter has also now been open for over a year.