Going big on biorefining in Scotland
Scotland's first biorefinery plant is just a beginning for a country that is determined and equipped to make it a leading light in an emerging industry worth multiple billions.
Scotland is already home to a number of biotech pioneers, making significant, often game-changing contributions to the global industry.
Cellucomp opened our first biorefinery plant, turning vegetable waste into high-performance household materials.
Celtic Renewables is another prime example. Spun out from Edinburgh Napier University's Biofuel Research Centre, they produce environmentally and commercially-sustainable biobutanol from the liquid effluent produced by the £4 billion malt whisky industry.
Founder Professor Martin Tangey reflects on being in Scotland: "Support is important for any business, but this can be particularly critical for an SME, particularly in the biotech sector. Scotland provides us with a highly supportive, networked infrastructure that crosses business, and a strong academic base. It is hard to imagine we would have grown so quickly anywhere else."
Scotland offers all the ingredients for industrial biotech success
Discover what Scotland can do for you.
Seaweed and skills
Then there's Marine Biopolymers Ltd (MBL), another highly-respected Scottish innovator. Their focus is on extracting high-value components from brown seaweed. Its use is multiple - food and pharmaceuticals, but also industrial applications areas as well, where the use of natural polymers is growing fast.
In the words of MBL Director David Mackie: "The benefits of being in Scotland as an SME biotech company are clear. The academic community here has a broad perspective, is highly-knowledgeable and is pragmatic about the commercial imperative of companies. It is also a good source for us of skilled, enthusiastic and straight-talking staff, potentially our leaders of the future."
Bespoke biorefining facilities
To further Scotland's hand, there's been an investment in bespoke biorefinery facilities. The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioC) - headquartered in Glasgow - has established the Rapid Bioprocessing Prototyping Centre (RBPC) and the Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre (FlexBIO) to support the increase in projects expected.
FlexBIO based at Edinburgh's Heriot Watt University provides low-cost access to a start-to-finish, integrated and flexible facility at the early and middle stages of process development. The RBPC at the University of Strathclyde is a equipment centre housing the most advanced phenotyping technology available for assessing the potential of new bio-products and novel approaches to bioprocessing.
Scotland's geography offers an abundant marine and terrestrial resource. it has the largest area of coastline and continental shelf in the EU. This makes it a suitable habitat for macroalgae. And an extensive commercial forestry source is also grown across the country. In fact, the largest in the UK. Coastal or inshore, this means plenty of variety of indigenous feedstock for biorefining around the bio-fraction of household, commercial and industrial waste, as well as forest co-products and, in the longer term, macroalgae.
Zero waste, max info
A pioneering project by Zero Waste Scotland to calculate and visualise all the waste streams produced in Scotland will result in a map. This will show all the potential raw materials for biorefining. This will be an invaluable resource if you are looking to Scotland as a base. It's a world first, with no-where else offering this type and level of detailed data.
How can we help?
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The way forward
Biorefining is the vehicle through which Scotland can be deliver our ambitions to be a location of choice for sustainable, high-value manufacturing for chemical and pharmaceutical businesses.
International investors, partners and collaborators are key to making those ambitions a reality, and we are here to help you make the right connections to the support you might need to work with Scotland on this important new wave of technology.
Find out more about biorefining and how we can help you locate, co-locate or collaborate here:
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