A NORTH-East innovation centre has been given £4million in funding to support the expansion of bio-manufacturing facilities in the region.

The funding will allow the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at the Wilton Centre in Redcar, which provides independent research and development supports the UK’s processing and manufacturing sectors, to refurbish and extend its capabilities.

This new capability will allow CPI to support businesses in developing new and improved food products, including foods with increased health benefits, driving forward Teesside’s reputation as a leader in bio-manufacturing and securing the future of companies working in the sector.

CPI’s upgrade to its laboratories and technical development areas will include the installation of new equipment.

When complete, the project will create and safeguard 41 jobs in the region, as well as support other businesses.

The funding was agreed by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Kris Wadrop, general manager for biotechnology at CPI said: “With this investment from the Tees Valley mayor and combined authority, in conjunction with CPI’s own investment programme and commitment from industrial leaders in the novel food and protein sector, we will create a unique capability on Teesside that will draw companies from all of the UK, EU and world to Wilton.

"The impact our food systems have on carbon emissions is profound, and this investment will enable businesses to demonstrate technologies and make samples for application tests of products that could transform our food systems.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “CPI is a massive asset in the ever-growing field of biotechnology and life sciences and works with a host of cutting-edge businesses to develop exciting and innovative products.

“Supporting and growing our amazing biosciences and healthcare sectors is an important part of my plan for jobs and this funding will help CPI to stay at the forefront of the industry, boost what they do and make even more new ideas a reality, helping to improve food production and, ultimately, the health and wellbeing of people across the UK.

“This investment will make sure they can continue their fantastic work with the backing of top-quality laboratories.

"CPI’s new development will become another major benefit for companies across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and prove a great draw to others looking to invest here.”

CPI also has facilities in Darlington, next to Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre, with both institutions playing a key part in the region’s biosciences and healthcare sector, as well as three centres in County Durham, in Sedgefield, Newton Aycliffe and Durham, which focus on a range of research.

It is part of the Government's High Value Manufacturing Catapult and works to bring together academia, businesses, government and investors to bring research into the marketplace.

The £24m Wilton centre is the National Industrial Biotechnology Facility and helps businesses assess, develop and scale-up products and processes.