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Scotland launches blueprint for £900 million industrial biotechnology growth

20 November 2013

A new strategy to increase Scotland’s industrial biotechnology (IB) activities to capture a share of a potential £360 billion global market has been unveiled today by Scottish Enterprise at Europe’s first international conference and exhibition on sustainable chemistry.

The National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology - Towards a Greener, Cleaner 2025 aims to increase existing IB turnover from £189 million to £900 million by 2025.

Currently home to over 40 companies actively involved in IB projects, the strategy builds on Scotland’s existing expertise as well as encouraging more sustainable manufacturing processes and more businesses to diversify into this growing market.

Speaking at Ecochem in Switzerland on sustainable manufacturing in Scotland, head of chemical sciences at Scottish Enterprise, Caroline Strain, said: “The rise in global population, rapid depletion of resources, increasing environmental pressures and climate change are each driving the need to develop more sustainable manufacturing processes. Investing in industrial biotechnology can help us achieve that.

“Supporting more companies, both at home and overseas, to invest in IB technology in Scotland is a priority for us. Building on our existing strengths in this area, we aim to position Scotland as an international hub for IB excellence.”

Developed by a working group of Chemical Sciences Scotland – the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group – the new national plan will be delivered through four key themes:

  • Industry engagement – helping to increase awareness and uptake of technologies
  • Skills – to help address any skills shortages/barriers to developing IB
  • Innovation Centres – to position Scotland as a leading hub for IB innovation
  • Biorefinery/biochemical facility – scope out the potential to make this a reality

Chemical Sciences Scotland chairman, Sandy Dobbie, said: “In 20 years time, the chemicals industry will be transformed by the increasing use of renewable feedstocks and bio-processing steps. If Scotland is to remain competitive, we must act now and capitalise on this changing environment.

“Our strong company base, academic excellence in research and innovation , natural resources and strong track record in collaboration makes Scotland and its chemicals sector well placed to capitalise on this huge opportunity.“

The National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology was launched today at EcoChem in Switzerland where more than 2,000 people have gathered for a three day conference and exhibition to hear and share information around sustainable chemistry.

The conference is being attending by a number of Scottish companies including Lanarkshire-based Nitech Solutions and Fife-based Cellucomp.

Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, said: “Industrial Biotechnology is set to play a crucial role in maintaining competitiveness in global markets where bio-based products and processes are rapidly becoming established. Focussed technology development coupled with a thriving research environment, are critical to enable us to exploit these market opportunities. With Scotland’s strengths in Industrial Biotechnology in both the academic and business communities, we have the potential to make a significant contribution to the development of this important sector.”

Notes to editors

About Industrial Biotechnology

Industrial biotechnology is defined as the use of biological resources for producing and processing materials into desired intermediate and final products including energy and high value chemicals. Biological resources can include existing and engineered organisms used equally as materials and processing agents.

The global IB market is estimated to be worth between £150 billion to £360 billion by 2025. Similar estimates for the UK IB market range from £4 billion to £12 billion.

Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology is aligned to the EU strategy “IB 2025 – Maximising UK Opportunities from Industrial Biotechnology in a Low Carbon Economy”.

Some Scottish companies already active in industrial biotechnology include:

  • Ingenza (a Scottish SME) is a world leader in the deployment of IB to revolutionise manufacturing processes across sectors, including pharma, biologics and renewable fuels.

Ingenza’s enzymatic approach to the synthesis of critical intermediates in the drug development process has resulted in a significant cost reduction to pharma manufacturers plus elimination of a waste stream and reduced solvent usage.

One of Ingenza’s yeast strains, used by a biofuel producer has delivered enhanced process efficiency leading to significant cost savings.

  • Celtic Renewables Ltd (a Scottish SME) provides an IB-driven, sustainable disposal route for the by-products of the malt whisky production process. In collaboration with the Scottish Whisky Industry, Celtic Renewables Ltd has integrated “green” chemical production with environmental sustainability and carbon reduction. The first product manufactured by the company is sustainable biobutanol which is used as a petrol replacement to help meet EU-mandated fuel targets.
  • INEOS has significant commodity chemical and fuel manufacturing assets in Scotland and in recent years has started to invest in biotechnology processes. INEOS Bio is commercialising a revolutionary new process for converting waste biomass into bioethanol and renewable electricity. INEOS has aspirations to apply this technology globally and to develop the technology as a platform for the production of other materials in the future. INEOS is interested in the application of IB to fuel and chemical production and will be a founding partner in the proposed Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre to secure collaborative partners, expertise and advice in this broad field.
  • ThyssenKrupp is one of the world’s largest steel producers and aims to further expand its research and development activities in the area of biochemicals based on renewable raw materials.

CEO, Heinrich Hiesinger, sees significant market potential: “Modern biotechnology is one of the key technologies of the 21st century. Biotechnological processes, products and services play a role in almost all areas of our daily lives, therefore IB is part of our growth strategy.

About Scotland’s chemical sciences sector

An important contributor to the Scottish economy, Scotland’s is home to around 200 chemical sciences companies employing some 14,000 people directly and 70,000 indirectly, and which generate over £9 billion each year. The sector is Scotland’s second top exporter, with exports worth almost £3 billion and accounts for 25 per cent of Scottish manufacturing by turnover.

Scotland is home to 13 universities and six colleges which have research and teaching excellence in chemistry and engineering in Scotland, and together they produce 500 graduates per year. Four of the UK’s top 10 chemistry departments are in Scotland.

Chemical Sciences Scotland is a unique partnership of industry with Scotland’s world-renowned academic sector and government agencies. Its aim is to ensure the chemical sciences have a vibrant future, creating high value opportunities for skilled people and innovative companies.

The chemical sciences are at the heart of Scotland’s economy and underpin its key life sciences, energy, chemicals and electronics industries. For more information log on to www.chemicalsciencesscotland.com

Contact information

Julia McLaren
Name
Julia McLaren
Job Title
Division
Scottish Enterprise
Main contact number
01786 452022
Fax
Mobile
07801 794046
Email
julia.mclaren@scotent.co.uk
Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Our role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. We support ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and help build Scotland’s globally competitive sectors. We also work with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment.

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