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Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector now worth nearly £750m

Researcher in a laboratory - Image credit: Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre

Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector now worth nearly £750m

Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector is now worth nearly £750m, according to figures from the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC).

This far exceeds the ambition of reaching £400m by 2020 that was set out in the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology in 2013.

New analysis from IBioIC has found that businesses working in industrial biotechnology accounted for £747m in turnover last year, close to a 400 per cent increase from £189m in 2012.

The number of companies has also risen rapidly, from 24 in 2012 to 130 in 2020.

The figures suggest the country is also likely to be ­­ahead of a target of reaching £900m in revenue by the end of 2025.

Industrial biotechnology involves creating products such as plastics that have traditionally been made from fossil fuels out of more sustainable raw materials such as plants and microorganisms.

It forms part of the transition towards a ‘bioeconomy’ that will support the delivery of net-zero emissions targets and tackle climate change.

Mark Bustard, chief executive of IBioIC, said: “Industrial biotechnology will be a key part of how we transition economies across the world to low carbon.

“There has been a great deal of discussion about building back greener and better from COVID-19 and the processes and technologies that are emerging from biotechnology-using businesses and academia will be critical as we move away from the old ways of making essential products towards a greener, more efficient manufacturing base that minimises its impact on the environment.

“Scotland’s IB 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.

“The figures announced today are proof that we are moving in the right direction and developments such as Celtic Renewables’ biorefinery at Grangemouth, for example, will only accelerate that progress even more.

“However, there is still a significant amount of work to do in order to deliver the ambitions set out in the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology.

“It is incumbent on us all to support the delivery of a thriving bioeconomy that will help combat climate change and communicate the important role that new technology and ways of manufacturing have to play in that process.”

Trade and innovation minister Ivan McKee said: “I am delighted at the progress Scotland has made towards realising the ambitions set out in the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology.

“Scotland is emerging as a major player in industrial biotechnology, largely due to collaboration between industry, academia and government facilitated through IBioIC.

“The turnover figure announced by IBioIC is not only a milestone towards achieving our target of £900 million by 2025, but a demonstration of how industrial biotechnology can have a significant commercial impact and contribute to Scotland’s transition to a net zero emissions economy.”

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