Scotland aims at playing a leading role in the £360 bln global industrial biotechnology market

John Swinney, Finance Secretary of Scotland
John Swinney, Finance Secretary of Scotland

A new innovation centre for industrial biotechnology is forecast to increase industrial biotechnology-related turnover to up to £3 billion by 2030, create 1500 jobs within five years and put Scotland at the forefront of a global transformation. Funded by the Scottish Funding Council and supported by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, the new Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) – hosted at the University of Strathclyde – is a key element of the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology – Towards a Greener, Cleaner 2025. It brings together academic and private sector partners to play a leading role in the potential £360 billion global industrial biotechnology market. Industrial biotechnology is the use of biological substances, systems and processes to produce intermediate and final products such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, materials and energy – both cost-effectively and with minimal adverse environmental impact.

According to John Swinney, Finance Secretary of Scotland:, “the creation of 1,500 new jobs is a fantastic boost for Scotland’s expanding biotechnology industry. Scotland’s chemical industry is the country’s second top exporter – equating to £3.7 billion per year – while Scotland’s life sciences sector is one of the largest and fastest-growing in Europe”. “The launch of IBioIC – said Swinney – is predicted to add £130 million to the Scottish economy and will allow Scotland to be at the forefront of global transformational change from a largely fossil fuel-based to an industrial biotechnology-inclusive economy. My budget for 2014-15 supports economic recovery while creating jobs and new opportunities, including through the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Ian Shott , chairman of IBioIC, said that”IBioIC is a collaboration of businesses and Higher Education Institutions with the ambition to be truly distinctive, world-leading and responsive to the market and technology needs of industry. Furthermore, the networks that IBioIC members bring to the partnership will be consolidated and extended to enhance connectivity and collaboration with industrial biotechnology centres worldwide. We aim to surpass the targets set by Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology by raising the estimated turnover of industrial biotechnology-related products from around £190 million currently, to between £2 billion and £3 billion by 2030.”

The Scottish Funding Council has contributed an initial £10 million towards the innovation centre, which is set to leverage over £45 million of investments within its first five years from various sources including industrial membership contributions and through external funding agencies such as Horizon 2020.

Laurence Howells, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Industrial Biotechnology has wide-reaching benefits for us all, whether it is turning waste into energy and products or improving the way we manufacture food, drink, vaccines and antibiotics. I am in no doubt of the huge contribution IBioIC will make to economic growth and job creation in Scotland, whilst reducing our impact on the environment. I’m pleased our £10 million will be used to support the essential backbone for IBioIC’s ambitious mission; its facilities, equipment, and staff.”

An independent economic assessment forecasts that IBioIC will generate around £130 million of gross value added and 1,500 jobs within five years, both directly through the innovation centre and indirectly through companies involved in growing the industrial biotechnology market. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Funding Council’s partners in the Innovation Centre programme, work intensively with companies both at home and overseas through their international arm, Scottish Development International (SDI), to encourage more companies to invest in Industrial Biotechnology. Scottish Enterprise is also leading the delivery of the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology in partnership with HIE.

Head of chemical sciences at Scottish Enterprise, Caroline Strain, said: “There are currently around 43 businesses actively involved in industrial biotechnology projects in Scotland, including world leading companies such as GSK, Ingenza and INEOS. Working collaboratively with our private and public sector partners, we aim to support these companies to build on their existing expertise as well as encourage more businesses to consider the impact and benefits sustainable high-value manufacturing and industrial biotechnology activities can contribute to their growth journey. IBioIC will play a key role in this process, supporting greater innovation and collaboration between industry and academia, and help to support our ambition of Scotland becoming an international hub for industrial biotechnology excellence.”

IBioIC will involve all 13 Scottish Higher Education Institutions that are active in biotechnology research and will be co-ordinated by the University of Strathclyde. Speaking on behalf of IBioIC’s academic partners, Principal of the University of Strathclyde Jim McDonald said: “As a single, national facility, IBioIC will enable Scotland – with its established industry base, world-class academic expertise and natural resources – to accelerate our globally-distinctive positioning and capability in the industrial biotechnology market. IBioIC, hosted here at Strathclyde, will ensure that Scotland capitalises on its resources and the synergies of its industrial and academic communities to gain economic advantage in this endeavour. The coherence and partnership within Scotland’s universities have been a key foundation for the creation of this exciting new venture.”

“The industrial leadership that has been attracted to this research and innovation investment – said McDonald – is enormously encouraging and demonstrates the value of collaboration and shared vision between government, industry and academia.”


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