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With over 350 biobased organisations at European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Biobased Economy (EFIB), it's the ideal place for ambitious Scottish companies to network with top industry figures.

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This week we’re at The European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Biobased Economy (EFIB) in France, supporting five ambitious Scottish companies to attend. With over 350 organisations from 35 countries at the event it really is an unrivalled opportunity to gain an insight into the biobased economy.

As part of this biobased economy, we are seeing an increased interest around biorefinering throughout Scotland. Biorefineries provide a means to integrate the supply chains of several operations and attract end-users for products and co-products while delivering significant carbon savings. Testing the feasibility of a biorefinery / biochemical concepts in Scotland is an early priority for Scottish Enterprise, Scotland's main economic development agency.

Finite resources and new solutions 

Increasing awareness around the environmental impact of producing chemicals, materials, transport fuels and energy from fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, and oil is driving a reappraisal of how best to produce these commodities. Current world wide consumption and demand for fossil fuels, specifically oil, is placing a massive strain on a finite resource, particularly when taken in the context of India and China’s rapidly expanding economies. Given the finite nature of fossil fuels, their ongoing price volatility and issues around security of supply, an alternative is to make transport fuel, chemicals, additives and biocomposites from plant biomass or by-products directly using a process called biorefining. Feedstock’s can include, but are not limited to, agricultural by-products, food processing by-products, sewage, animal slurry and timber by-products, for example.

In the longer term, such products are also more economically sustainable in the face of rising oil prices. In many cases, large quantities of chemical materials can be extracted directly from plants or by-products or obtained by chemical or biochemical methods. There are also links into the circular economy approach to the replacement of non sustainable resources.

Opportunities for Scotland

All of this presents opportunities for Scotland and for Scottish companies. As such, Scottish Enterprise is proactively considering the potential for a biorefinery / biochemical facilities in Scotland for the production of high-value products which could help to deliver many benefits. including the further development of Scottish expertise in relevant disciplines such as plant biosciences, life sciences, chemistry and engineering to will develop innovative products which will have commercial advantages based on renewability and reduced environmental footprint. In addition we will support the expansion of the knowledge based bio-economy in Scotland through the creation of new jobs in existing companies and business start-ups in cutting edge scientific areas within plant science, chemistry, biotechnology, chemical and process engineering.

This is an exciting area for Scotland and it’s our role to ensure that we work with partners and companies to make the most of these opportunities for the long-term growth of the Scottish economy.

Discover how we support chemical sciences here