£700k investment to help meet £400m industrial biotechnology goal

Roger Kilburn
Roger Kilburn

Small businesses in Scotland are set to receive a significant boost as the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) announces over £700,000 of investment for Scottish microenterprises specialising in industrial biotechnology (IB).

Spread across five research projects, the funding will boost research in areas such as new and environmentally-friendly protein production, new tools for vaccines and therapies, processes to increase the value of seaweed crops, bioprocessing and natural pigment production. This investment will add significant impact to the growth of the industry, which has a target worth of £400 million by 2020. The announcement was made today at the third Annual IBioIC Conference in Glasgow to an audience of over 400 industry executives and academics from across the globe.

There is a global desire to shift from using chemical processes to more natural, environmentally-friendly solutions. As demand soars, finding new technologies and processes to replace chemicals has become more critical and a big business opportunity. Industrial biotechnology solutions are emerging each day and are found not just in the large conglomerate companies, but often in small businesses and microenterprises with just a handful of employees. These companies often have the flexibility and niche expertise to develop new concepts quicker and more efficiently once funding is received.

Roger Kilburn, CEO of IBioIC said: “Ultimately, IB will become the size of the chemical industry ($5.2 trillion globally in 2015) as it uses bio-resources to replace fossil fuel feedstocks. With the Scottish market growing by 10% a year, we’re proud to be enabling smaller businesses to accelerate growth in the sector and support their access to the excellent academic capabilities of our Scottish higher education institutions. This transition needs academia and industry partners of all sizes to work together and catalyse growth.”

Each of these IBioIC funded projects is collaborative in nature and will enable industry partners and Scottish academics to work together, sharing the best expertise and newest concepts. Recipients of the funding are (full details of each project can be found further down the page):

3f bio Ltd and University of Strathclyde: to address the global need for sustainable protein

Alfacyte and University of Edinburgh: to enable better vaccine and disease therapies

Marine Biopolymers, James Hutton Institute and Glasgow University: to innovate seaweed extraction and maximise value from crops

Scottish Bioenergy and University of Edinburgh: to increase the production of natural pigments from bacteria

Carbogenics and University of Edinburgh: to intensify biological manufacturing; increasing revenues

The value of IB to the Scottish economy in 2014 was £230 million, while the 2020 target for the industry is £400 million – IBioIC’s investment in these collaborative projects will ensure that microenterprises are part of this economic growth. A total investment of £780,000 has been sourced, with £520,000 investment from IBioIC and the rest from the industry and academic project partners.