Britain's leading brewing yeast research centre has joined forces with a private-sector company to market and sell its expertise to beer makers worldwide.
Based at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, the National Collection of Yeast Cultures houses more than 600 yeast strains, the largest collection in the world.
A deal with Sussex-based Cara Technology, a consultant to the brewing industry, could mean a big expansion in the centre's services, which include confidential safe-depositing of yeast strains used by brewing firms.
Bill Simpson, technical director of Cara Technology, said: "The brewing industry worldwide is worth $350 billion. The success of individual firms is based on brands that in turn depend on the brewing process and the yeast strain they use.
"But these strains can mutate and the safe depositing allows firms to store their original strains in perfect conditions, under strict commercial confidence, for access when they need to refer back to them."
Peter Schroeder, IFR's director, said the collection had served the brewing industry for more than half a century, providing secure, confidential storage of yeast strains and advanced strain typing services.
He added: "We are at the cutting edge of yeast technology, with considerable expertise in molecular typing of brewing yeasts. Our customers are mainly UK companies, but we hope this agreement will make our services more accessible internationally."
The deal will involve a revenue-sharing agreement.