Dr Caitlin Burns

Caitlin Burns is a Consultant at NNFCC, working with us since 2014. She carries out policy, market, feedstock, sustainability and technology analysis in the biobased sector. Caitlin's main role is currently to lead the deliverables for a workpackage in a Horizon 2020 project AgroCycle; to develop business models and evaluate the sustainability of novel value chains from agri-food residues. She is also NNFCC's content ​manager for marketing material, our website and social media.

Caitlin has worked on projects with UK-based and international clients from industry, government, academia and the EU. Her projects have involved research into utilising biowastes, industrial biotechnology, biorefining, specialty crops, food production, sustainable feedstocks, national bioeconomy strategies, organics recycling, and biogas among other things. She has wealth of experience in evaluating the barriers and opportunities to developing innovation in the European bioeconomy.

Before joining NNFCC, Caitlin had experience in industry, government and networks. Caitlin is the founder of the Early Career Biomass Network, organising and coordinating four annual symposia to date, connecting researchers of ​biomass valorisation. She worked in the Scottish Government, within an agricultural policy making unit. She has also worked with industry, developing biofertilisers with an international energy crop company New Energy Farms.

Caitlin has a PhD from the University of Warwick, researching the functional role of symbiotic microbes in energy crops. She gained a first class undergraduate degree (BSc) in Plant Science from the University of Manchester. Caitlin has also carried out a range of independent lab and field projects, researching the biology and biochemistry of a range of organisms, in the UK, Canada and Ecuador.

Recent projects


Caitlin is a key contributor to work package deliverables in the 3-year EU-China wide project ‘Agrocylce’, funded by Horizon 2020 (EU). The project investigates arising’s, management and uses of agricultural wastes, aiming to increase valorisation of agri-food wastes in Europe and China. The AgroCycle consortium comprises of 26 multi-national group of multi-sector actors. NNFCC's main tasks are to develop sustainable value chains and business models for agri-food waste valorisation. See AgroCycle public deliverables here http://www.agrocycle.eu/documents/

Biohorizons: Horizon Scanning the European Bioeconomy

Caitlin was a key contributor to Biohorizons, a Climate Knowledge Innovation Community project aiming to identify key interventions necessary to develop the bioeconomy in Europe. Caitlin coordinated the project and report across European partners, developed a LinkedIn group for bioeconomy stakeholders, carried out interviews and distributed the Biohorzion survey. Her main outputs were publishing UK policy recommendations in BIOFPR, factsheets, and contributing to associated publications.

Organics Recycling Industry Status Report 

Caitlin was the lead author for WRAP's latest Organics Recycling Industry Status Report. The report analysed the size and growth of the AD and composting sectors, utilising public and commercial data to deliver a snapshot of the industry in 2014. The report highlighted the major gaps in data available from public databases collected about organics recycling, and the importance of commercial databases and industry surveys to fully understand the market. The project was delivered in collaboration with ADBA, REA, ORG and ESA. 

An evaluation of Non-Food Crop options for Jersey

Caitlin was a key contributor to this project evaluating high vale crop options for the Island of Jersey, commissioned by the Jersey State Government. After undertaking a strategic market evaluation of current and developing novel crop options, a more in-depth business case for each shortlisted opportunity was prepared. Factors considered included; agronomy, climate, economics, route to market. In addition, key opportunities for retaining added value on the island of Jersey were identified in the form of on-island processing, product formulation and branding.

UK food and bio-based innovation networks

Caitlin was a key contributor to a report for the Dutch Embassy on food and bio-based innovation networks in the UK, to facilitate networking and collaboration activities between Dutch and UK companies. Research included stakeholder engagement to discuss opportunities for Dutch-UK collaboration.

​Bioenergy in the UK

Caitlin was a key contributor in an NNFCC work-package to evaluate the current status of bioenergy in the UK, and drivers and constraints of bioenergy development towards 2020, 2030 and 2050. This included analysing biomass handling capacity, infrastructure of ports, roads, rail, conversion technologies, distribution and energy use.

Selected publications

  • Biogas: Boom or Bust?
    Article in Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIMW) Journal, July. Burns, C., Hopwood, L., (2016)
  • Public engagement document to support proposed AD project
    Report for JHH&S and Unity Utilities
  • Identification of low-cost cellulose resources suited to use in the food sector.
    Commercial client report. Turley D.B., Burns C. and De Maio D. (2015).
  • PhD Thesis - Characterising the functional role of rhizosphere fungi in Miscanthus giganteus bioenergy cropping systems. Burns, C. (2014)