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Chemical sciences and industrial biotechnology

Scotland's chemical sciences industry is innovating at pace to meet the demands of modern society, providing sustainable solutions to everyday challenges, from protecting crops to providing solutions for climate change.

Did you know?

Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector is worth nearly £800 million, targeting £1.2 billion by 2025. And opportunities for industrial biotechnology, continuous manufacturing, and co-location are plentiful in Scotland.

  • £4.4 billion exports

    Equivalent to 13% of international exports

  • 250 companies

    Scotland is home to 250 chemical sciences companies – large and small

  • Ranked top 3 for R&D

    Scotland's chemical sciences R&D is consistently ranked in the top three in the world

Source: Scottish Economic Statistics, Scottish Enterprise February 2021

Looking for sustainable, high-value manufacturing?

By 2025 Scotland's national strategy is to:

  • Grow industrial biotechnology (IB)-related turnover in Scotland to £1.2 billion by 2025
  • Establish biorefinery and biochemical operations in Scotland
  • Through the Falkirk Growth Deal, cement Grangemouth as a hub for sustainable high value manufacturing

Research excellence

Scotland has long been associated with scientific and manufacturing excellence. Our chemical sciences research base is consistently ranked top three in the world in terms of productivity and influence, according to research by Elsevier.

So, it’s not surprising that we have the likes of EaStChem  opens in a new window , the UK's leading University chemistry department, among our range of globally acclaimed institutions.

Innovative solutions and future manufacturing

Scotland is emerging as a major player in industrial biotechnology, largely due to collaboration between industry, academia and government facilitated through its Industrial Biotech Innovation Centre, IBioIC. Based in Glasgow, the IBioICopens in a new window helps foster the commercialisation of biotech solutions in both the chemical and life sciences sectors.

Glasgow is also home to the UK’s centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC)opens in a new window , which helps industry to exploit the advantages of this technology. 

CMAC can accelerate business adoption of continuous manufacturing processes, systems and plants – all for the low-cost, sustainable production of high quality chemical products.

The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC)opens in a new window is a collaboration between CPI, University of Strathclyde, UK Research & Innovation, Scottish Enterprise and founding industry partners, AstraZeneca and GSK. The MMIC is developing advanced solutions for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Who's investing in Scotland?

The world's leading chemical companies, including INEOS, FujiFilm, DSM, GlaxoSmithKline, DuPont Teijin Films, BASF Pharma and Syngenta all have Scottish operations.

They’re among the 250 chemical sciences companies currently operating in Scotland, directly employing 11,000 staff.

These companies benefit not only from our talented workforce and excellent transport infrastructure, but also from our world-class research and development (R&D) capabilities. If industrial biotechnology is part of your business future, it's time to join them.

Co-location opportunities

Searching for a site with existing utility and supply chain assets? Scotland offers excellent opportunities to co-locate with companies in our designated chemical clusters.

You can also get data on Scotland's bioresources through the IBioIC or Zero Waste Scotlandopens in a new window . This can help you identify and access sustainable feedstocks (raw materials) for your business.

Specific industrial biotech and sustainable chemical sciences opportunities are currently available at the following locations:

Contact us to find out more

Aerial view of Grangemouth Oil Refinery 

Reducing emissions

INEOS and Petroineos at Grangemouth fully support the Scottish Government targets to reduce emissions to net zero by 2045 as part of a just transition to a low carbon economy.

INEOS Grangemouth has plans to invest over £1 billion towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the site to net zero by 2045, building on the 37% reduction in net CO2 emissions already delivered since acquiring the site in 2005.

Scotland is also home to Neccusopens in a new window , an industry and public sector collaboration to drive the changes and programmes needed to reduce carbon emissions from industry in Scotland. This includes project Acornopens in a new window .

You’ll be in good company

Here are examples of Scotland’s pioneering chemical sciences and biotech companies and what they do:

  • CelluComp opened Scotland's first biorefinery plant, transforming a vegetable by-product that would normally go to waste into household items like paint
  • Celtic Renewables turns by-products of whisky production into biobutanol biosolvents
  • Prasinotech is the world’s first company making polysaccharide products from microalgae
  • Marine Biopolymers specialises in the multi-component extraction of natural polymers from seaweed
  • Xanthella provides photo-bioreactors for growing algae
  • Ingenza Ltd has over 25 years’ experience engineering biological systems and the sustainable manufacture of chemicals and production of protein therapeutics
  • Synpromics (now part of Bayer) is the leading developer of synthetic promoters to reduce gene screening from years to months
  • Biotangents provides molecular diagnostics for animal health

Skills for industry

Every year in Scotland, around 1,000 students graduate with degrees in chemistry or related subjects. This means you’ll have access to a pool of highly qualified talent.

Much of the chemicals research in Scottish universities is designed to address specific industrial issues. Scotland's academic sector also continues to develop and adapt to meet the needs of a modern economy. In addition to graduates, Scottish colleges of further education train a significant number of modern apprentices for industries including chemical sciences. This means companies benefit from Scottish graduates and apprentices with the right qualifications, ready to take on global challenges and opportunities in the industry.

Scotland's national skills agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has created a skills investment planopens in a new window to address chemical sciences industry skills needs. In partnership with Scottish Enterprise, SDS have also created a workforce development portalopens in a new window for chemical sciences to support training. 

Find the right partners

In addition to a thriving chemical sciences industry Scotland has one of the largest life sciences clusters. This helps underpin the growth in industrial biotechnology, which means we have the networks, support, financing and skills you need to succeed.

We’ve seen success and innovation across a wide range of companies. From industrial biotechnology to speciality chemicals, from pharmaceuticals to commodity chemicals.

We have the infrastructure your company needs to succeed. That's one of the reasons why we’re consistently ranked in the world’s top three for R&D and keep producing highly-qualified graduates.

The Scottish Life and Chemical Sciences Directoryopens in a new window is your gateway to over 1000 companies and organisations in Scotland.

Professor Martin Tangney OBE, Founder and President of Celtic Renewables

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If you have any questions or want to talk with one of our advisers, we're always ready to help.