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With early stage National Plan goals met, Caroline Strain, head of chemical sciences at Scottish Enterprise, explains how Scotland's industrial biotechnology ambitions offer continuing potential for international collaboration.

Caroline Strain, head of chemical sciences at Scottish enterprise
Caroline Strain, head of chemical sciences at Scottish Enterprise

Scotland's certainly in an excellent position to capitalise on the potential of industrial biotechnology. And we are already working with international partners to deliver our National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology: Building on Success . It aims to increase Scotland’s existing IB turnover to £900m by 2025.

Right now, Scotland is home to around 50 companies active in IB. Their turnover has increased from £189m to around £230m in two years, exceeding the target by £30m.  

Encouraging collaboration with overseas partners is a fundamental element of the plan if we are to grab a slice of the global IB market which has been estimated to be valued somewhere between from £150 billion to £360 billion by 2025.

Several leading international companies are already taking advantage of the opportunities and support available here. GSK, Syngenta, FujiFilm and Dupoint operate across chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Local companies like Celtic Renewables are also showing the way forward with bold, successful applications. In their case, producing the world's first advanced biofuel (biobutanol), capable of powering vehicles, all from the residues of whisky production. Certainly, a very Scottish solution.

Scotland's environment and natural resources make it an attractive location for IB: it's rich in agriculture, forestry, coastal and marine. Did you know that Scotland has the largest area of coastline and continental shelf in the EU, making it ideal for macroalgal culture?  

Then there's the political, industrial, and academic environment: characterised by strong collaborations and partnerships that make for excellent research, regulation, and a stable economy.

Forging ahead with R&D

Our academic excellence in research and development is recognised the world over. There's wide-ranging university participation in international collaborative research projects, and research initiatives such as ScotCHEM, a ‘research pool’ which brings together seven universities and other major players in chemical sciences research. 

In fact, the chemical sciences sector alone accounts for 40 percent of Scotland’s total investment in research and development and 25 percent of all industrial R&D. Research by Elsevier, the world’s leading provider of health and science information, has placed Scotland among the best in the world for life and chemical sciences research.

Vital hubs and centres

Our vital hub, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) brings together academic and private sector partners to encourage innovation and growth.Established in 2014, it has already helped to boost market growth by 18%.

Two new centres funded by IbioIC will move things forward too: the Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre, and the Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre. Both are key to the rapid commercialisation of IB.

Of course, we are very excited to be hosting EFIB in Glasgow as we raise awareness of Scotland’s capability in IB and build our reputation as an attractive location for investment. If you are going to be attending, please come and see us at the SDI stand and we can better explain the business opportunities of industrial biotechnology in Scotland.

For more information about our National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology, our sustainable high value manufacturing ambition and how we can help you to invest in Scotland's industrial biotechnology opportunities:

Read Scotland's IB Progress Report