The universities and science minister has been in the region for the opening of the £12m expansion of a Redcar testing facility.
David Willetts attended the opening of the Centre for Process Innovation’s (CPI) National Industrial Biotechnology Facility (NIBF), which is expected to help boost the UK’s manufacturing industry.
The NIBF aims to stimulate the use of industrial biotechnology to develop and demonstrate "cleaner and more sustainable manufacturing processes". It is tailored to the production of alternative fuels and chemicals using renewable sources, such as biomass and waste.
The extension includes a new 10,000-litre fermentation capacity and the biggest open-access unit in the UK.
Willetts said: "UK manufacturing is at the heart of our plan for economic growth and technology and innovation centres are a key element of the plan. Industrial biotechnology is an important part of this with its potential to improve our sustainability, cut CO2 emissions and reduce our dependence on oil and gas.
"The industrial biotechnology facility reinforces the Government's commitment to convert science into business opportunities. This facility is also based in an area where specialist jobs can be created to help boost the local economy."