Scotland’s industrial biotech plan exceeds early stage goals

Scottish Enterprise has today announced at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy, in Brussels, Belgium, that Scotland’s plan to create, build and grow successful industrial biotechnology (IB) companies has surpassed the early stage goals established when the plan was launched in 2013.

Chemical Sciences Scotland and the Scottish Life Sciences Advisory Board (LiSAB) have published The National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology 2015-2025: Building on Success which details the achievements of the last two years and provides a re-focussed plan of actions for the next ten years.

This progress report outlines how the five key milestones set out in the 2013 strategy document, The National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology - Towards a Greener, Cleaner 2025, have been met and in some cases exceeded.

  • The number of companies active in IB has increased from 43 in 2012 to 50 in 2015
  • The turnover from these companies has increased from £189m to around £230m, exceeding the target by £30m.
  • The opportunity for a biorefinery/biochemical facility in Scotland has been articulated through the publication of the Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland in February 2015 and all partners have agreed to the delivery of this Roadmap over the next 10 years.
  • The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) was established in January 2014 with a £10m investment from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
  • A skills and training audit has been completed and ambitious timescales for the launch of the IBioIC MSc and PhD Programmes were achieved.

In addition to meeting these milestones there have been a number of other significant achievements. These include an increased profile for IB in Scotland; funding of £2.8m invested through IBioIC to establish two new open access equipment centres, the Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre and the Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre, for use by both industry and academia; and we also welcome the announcement recently that BBSRC, EPSRC and MIC has funded the UK Mammalian Synthetic Biology Centre of Excellence based at Edinburgh University and also winning the competition to host Europe’s leading IB Conference, European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy, in Glasgow, Scotland between the 18th and 22nd October 2016.

The overall goals of the plan remain to increase the number of IB companies in Scotland to 80 by 2020 and to 200 by 2025 with the turnover increasing to £400m by 2020 and £900m by 2025.

Commenting on the report Caroline Strain, Head of Chemical Sciences at Scottish Enterprise, said:

“IB is a growing and ambitious part of the Scottish economy and builds on Scotland’s existing capabilities in life sciences, chemicals and engineering. It provides a mechanism to increase economic outputs, build new employment opportunities, increase innovation and efficiencies, develop new manufacturing systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce energy. We have made significant strides towards our goals for 2025 and will continue to support companies investing in IB in Scotland.”

In addition to hosting EFIB 2016, Scottish Enterprise will be supporting a number of Scottish businesses at EFIB 2015 in Brussels, Belgium, from 27-29 October.

Notes to editors

About industrial biotechnology

Industrial biotechnology is defined as the use of biological resources for producing and processing materials into desired intermediate and final products including energy and high value chemicals. Biological resources can include existing and engineered organisms used equally as materials and processing agents.

The global IB market is estimated to be worth between £150 billion to £360 billion by 2025. Similar estimates for the UK IB market range from £4 billion to £12 billion.

Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology is aligned to the EU strategy “IB 2025 – Maximising UK Opportunities from Industrial Biotechnology in a Low Carbon Economy”.

Case study 1: CelluComp

CelluComp has created a European first with its biorefinery plant to produce material based on the by-products of vegetables. These are then turned into a sustainable material, marketed as Curran®, which is used in household materials such as paint. As well as generating value from food waste, it provides the chemicals industry with a more environmentally-conscious option for consumers; compared with traditional products, it has a lower carbon footprint, uses fewer fossil fuel based chemicals and is emission free.

The Fife plant, which opened in March 2015, marks the beginning of scaling up commercial production of the product. CelluComp reports that the expansion has already produced dividends to the company through additional export opportunities.

The opening of the plant is progress against Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology, which seeks to establish Scotland as a world leader in industrial biotechnology and biorefining, an industry already estimated to be worth nearly £200m to the Scottish economy.

Case study 2: Celtic Renewables

Celtic Renewables Ltd. Is the first company in the world to produce biofuel capable of powering cars from the residues of the whisky industry. This Scottish start-up company plans to produce sustainable biobutanol as a direct replacement for fossil-based road fuel, which could play a substantial role in meeting EU mandated biofuel targets. The company estimates the new technology could herald a new era in sustainable biofuels and chemicals and contribute to creating an industry worth £100 million a year.

Case study 3: Horizon Proteins

Horizon Proteins develop processes for the recovery and re-use of protein and other valuable products from fermentation and distillery by-products. The company identifies and implements effective processes for production of new protein feeds to provide a new sustainable, local source of quality protein to the Scottish feed sectors.

Case Study 4: Ingenza

Ingenza is an industrial biotechnology company that develops and applies engineered microbes for industrial use and operates from state-of-the-art facilities at The Roslin BioCentre on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Ingenza’s team has over 25 years of expertise in molecular genetics, enzymology, fermentation and bioprocess development.

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