University College Cork (UCC) is leading a 6.3 million euro project to boost green business by harnessing ‘the potential of yeast’.

By tapping in to the processes used to make beer and alcohol, the initiative seeks to develop natural production methods to produce sustainable ingredients for food, medicines and as a replacement for oil in cosmetics.

Europe wants to free itself from a dependence on oil and this collaboration of universities from across the continent is working to unlock a new generation of sustainable products.

Dr John Morrissey, from UCC, told the university’s news and views section: “Few people realise, but yeast is the unsung hero when it comes to the production of many ground-breaking products, not just alcohol. Yeast is the powerhouse behind key ingredients in many widely available products such as food flavourings, Resvertrol, an anti-aging compound, the malaria drug Artemisin, bioethanol, and bioplastics. There is great potential for using yeast as a cell-sized factory to produce molecules to replace petrochemicals.”

The four year project is being backed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funding programme.