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SABMiller to support biofuel research through UK investment

27 January 2009

International brewer SABMiller plc, announces that it is partnering with the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as part of a £27 million public-private investment in sustainable bioenergy research. 

The investment, which is expected to generate advances in research through a new BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, comprises money from the public and private sectors in what is the UK's biggest single public investment in bioenergy development.

SABMiller's aim is to create more renewable energy from the natural wastes of the brewing process. If successful, the research could lead to a greater proportion of beer being brewed using green power. Because spent grain is available at each of its breweries, the technologies being investigated could be used around the world.

The research will be led by Professor Katherine Smart, the SABMiller Chair of Brewing Science at the University of Nottingham - one of the six academic-industry hubs that make up the new Centre and which are receiving the BBSRC funding.  Professor Smart's work will also look at using other agricultural and wood-industry wastes as sources of biofuel.

Sustainable bioenergy, based on bio-wastes and non food crops, offers the potential to provide a significant source of clean, low carbon and secure energy, and to generate thousands of new ‘green collar' jobs. It is also the only current renewable technology that can produce liquid fuel to replace fossil based petrol and diesel in our vehicles.

SABMiller CEO, Graham Mackay, said: "The benefits of biofuels have been somewhat obscured by the negative effects of purpose-grown crops. However, at SABMiller we believe that the development of sustainable biofuel could prove to be one of the most important contributors to solving the energy and climate challenges. The Sustainable Bioenergy Centre is an excellent demonstration of the importance of industry and academia working together."

Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, said: "Investing £27 million in this new centre involves the single biggest UK public investment in bioenergy research. The centre is exactly the sort of initiative this country needs to lead the way in transforming the exciting potential of sustainable biofuels into a widespread technology that can replace fossil fuels.

"The centre is a great example of the UK investing in innovative areas which have the benefits of creating new green collar jobs as well as helping us to meet the global challenges of climate change and reducing carbon emissions."

The BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre's research activities will encompass many different stages of bioenergy production, from widening the range of materials that can be the starting point for bioenergy to improving the crops used by making them grow more efficiently. The Centre will also analyse the complete economic and environmental life cycle of potential sources of bioenergy to ensure that the whole system is economically and socially viable.

Notes to Editors

About SABMiller plc
SABMiller plc is one of the world's largest brewers with brewing interests or distribution agreements in over 60 countries across six continents. The group's brands include premium international beers such as Grolsch, Miller Genuine Draft, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell, as well as an exceptional range of market leading local brands. Outside the USA, SABMiller plc is also one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products in the world.

In the year ended 31 March 2008, the group reported US$3,639 million adjusted pre-tax profit and revenue of US$21,410 million. SABMiller plc is listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.

This announcement is available on the company website:

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The BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) is an innovative £27M academic-industry partnership that will help to deliver the science to underpin development in this important and emerging sector.
The new centre is based around six research hubs of academic and industrial partners.

BSBEC provides a focus for ensuring sustainability, widening the range of materials that can be used as feedstock (raw materials) for bioenergy, changing plant cell walls, making them more amenable to breakdown and optimising fermentation to release energy


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £420 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

For more information see:

SABMiller plc  Tel: +44 20 7659 0100
Jonathan Oates Media Relations Manager Tel: +44 20 7659 0144

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