A TEES Valley facility offering biotechnology firms access to equipment that will help turn their research into commercial opportunities is to share in a £140m funding package.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the high value manufacturing technology and innovation centre, which includes seven facilities across the UK, will share in the funding in the next six years. They include the Centre for Process Innovation, which opened a £12m expansion to the National Industrial Biotechnology Facility, the Government’s first elite technology innovation centre, at Wilton, near Redcar, earlier this year.

The facility will enable companies who pay to use it to try out processes for a fraction of the cost of building a facility of their own, or as a product manufacturing facility for smaller ventures.

Speaking at Innovate 2011 in London yesterday, Mr Cable said: “When revolutionary new products emerge with bewildering speed, like the iPad or the Kindle, the market is the place to sort out which innovations will succeed, not ministers.

“Nevertheless, there is a space between pure science and commercial application, where markets will not deliver.

“There are big, breakthrough technologies, which are either too risky or have such wide ramifications that individual companies are unlikely to develop them.

“In the field of renewable energy, we simply do not know whether, in the long run, the most cost-effective low-carbon technologies will be in wind or wave power, in tidal or solar, in nuclear fission or fusion, in hydrocarbons or biomass. So, we have to support innovation across a portfolio of options.”

Mr Cable pointed out that the seven facilities making up the centre were chosen by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

That was also awarded £18m yesterday for a Technology Inspired Innovation project, to fund products inspired by new discoveries and breakthroughs, such as biosciences.

The TSB and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles will also control a £15m pot to help firms fund investment into the research and development of low-carbon vehicles.

Mr Cable said the development of the Leaf electric car at Nissan’s Sunderland plant was an example of its importance.