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.

Did you know?

Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector is worth nearly £750 million. And opportunities for industrial biotechnology, continuous manufacturing, and co-location are plentiful in Scotland.

£4.4 billion exports

Scottish chemicals exports top £4.4 billion a year

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 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

"Industrial biotechnology will be a key part of how we transition economies across the world to low carbon. Scotland’s industrial biotech community has made tremendous progress over the past eight or so years, expanding rapidly and, in many ways, becoming a great place to develop such sustainable products and processes."

Mark Bustard, Chief Executive, IBioIC 

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.

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 IBioIC 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), 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 University of Strathclyde is home to one of the UK's biggest chemical engineering departments – internationally renowned for its excellence in research. The department's state-of-the-art facilities including a new Advanced Materials Lab enhances its exceptional reputation for industry collaboration.

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 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.

Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland (PDF, 1.3MB)

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. 

Specific industrial biotech opportunities are currently available at the following locations:

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

Contact us to find out more

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.

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

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

"Scottish Development International has supported us since the day we were incorporated, and with local resources in our key international target markets, it has helped us to develop our global plans with confidence."

Professor Martin Tangney OBE, Founder and President of Celtic Renewables

Want to find opportunities in Scotland for your business in chemical sciences and industrial biotech? Get in touch to see how we can help.

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