Chemical sciences and industrial biotech

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 advancing healthcare.

£4.4 billion exports

Scottish chemicals exports top £4.4 billion a year

240 companies

Scotland is home to 240 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 2020

Looking for sustainable, high-value manufacturing?

Opportunities for industrial biotechnology, continuous manufacturing, and co-location are plentiful in Scotland.

By 2025 our national strategy driven by Chemical Sciences Scotland is to:

  • Grow industrial biotechnology (IB)-related turnover in Scotland to £900 million 
  • Establish biorefinery and biochemical operations in Scotland
  • Secure Smart City status for Grangemouth and cement it as a key European hub for sustainable high value chemical manufacturing

National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology (PDF, 890kB)

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, the UK's leading University chemistry department, among range of globally acclaimed institutions.

A place to explore innovative solutions

Glasgow is home to Scotland's IB innovation centre, IBioIC, which helps foster the commercialisation of biotech solutions in both the chemical and life sciences sectors.

Shaping the future of manufacturing

Glasgow is also home to the UK’s centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC), 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.

Who's investing in Scotland?

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

They’re among the 235 chemical sciences companies currently operating in Scotland, directly employing 11,750 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.

Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland (PDF, 1.3MB)

“Scotland has feedstocks readily available, substantial infrastructure, and highly-skilled workforce.”

Roger Kilburn, CEO, IBioIC 

Co-location opportunities

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

Within our designated Enterprise Areas, you can benefit from generous incentives ranging from discounted business rates to high-speed broadband. 

Three locations where specific IB opportunities are currently available:

  • Grangemouth in central Scotland
  • Guardbridge, near St Andrews, Fife
  • Irvine Bay, North Ayrshire

You’ll be among good company 

Here are examples of Scotland’s pioneering 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 biofuel
  • 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 manufacturing enhanced biofuels, the sustainable manufacture of chemicals and production of protein therapeutics
  • Synpromics is the leading developer of synthetic promoters to reduce gene screening from years to months
  • Biotangents designs and builds biological pathways to enable sustainable and stable production of desirable natural materials. The optimum solutions to the challenges of biological pathway engineering
  • CalaChem provides contract manufacturing and site services to customers in the agrochemical, pharmaceutical and speciality chemical industries

“The access to and support gained by Government, academia and other industry partners such as the Scottish Whisky Association, is a real strength of Scotland and has been key to our success.”

Mark Simmers, CEO, Celtic Renewables

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. 

This means companies benefit from Scottish graduates with the right qualifications, ready to take on global challenges and opportunities in the industry.

Find the right partners

We already have one of Europe’s largest life sciences clusters. 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 pharmaceutical services to healthcare informatics, and from clinical applications to medical devices and diagnostics.

We have the infrastructure your company needs to succeed. Find out 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 Directory is your gateway to over 1000 companies and organisations in Scotland.

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Our people and skills

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