Scotland’s industrial biotechnology community is exceeding growth expectations and is on track to achieve annual turnover of £1.2bn ($1.5B) by 2025.

This is according to a renewed strategy launched at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s (IBioIC) annual conference this week.

The updated National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology outlines new ambitions for Scotland’s bioeconomy, including reaching a target of 220 companies operating in the sector and more than 4,000 employees by 2025. The IBioIC said this reflects the increasingly important role of industrial biotechnology in the transition to net zero.

Analysis from IBioIC showed businesses in industrial biotechnology accounted for more than £790M ($989M) in turnover during 2020, increasing from £189M ($237M) in 2012 – prior to the launch of the first version of the strategy and the formation of the innovation center.

Initial targets of the National Plan were set at £900m ($1.1B) turnover and 2,500 employees by 2025.

Industrial biotechnology is already supporting the creation of more sustainable materials, consumer goods and pharmaceuticals by using bio-based alternatives to petrochemicals, maximizing the re-use of by-products, thereby minimizing waste.

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IBioIC

IBioIC connects industry with academia to support companies to bring new bio-based processes and products to the global market. Almost £30M ($37.5M) of additional industry investment has been generated as a direct result of innovation activities to date, contributing to more than 3,000 green jobs.

Since its inception, IBioIC has seeded 120 collaborative research and development projects with more than 60 companies – an investment of about £6.4M ($8M) which has leveraged more than £28M ($35M) in funding and led to the development of more than 200 new products, processes, and services.

Mark Bustard, chief executive of IBioIC, said: “Reaching net zero is going to be a big challenge for Scotland, but it also presents opportunities to embrace biotechnology as a means of getting there. We are already making great progress with the bioeconomy in Scotland, which has grown considerably over the past decade – so much so that we now have new ambitious, but achievable, targets to work towards.”

Bustard said supporting businesses could lead to more sustainable products, materials and processes through industrial biotechnology, and this would secure local supply chains, create green jobs, and fuel economic growth. 

“However, with a climate emergency upon us, we need to do more and do it quickly: the new National Plan sets out some of the required steps to make that a reality.  Scotland has a world-class innovation ecosystem and could become the go-to destination for scaling up bioeconomy businesses and manufacturing bio-based products and materials. Further growth will require action from every part of the bioeconomy community – from developing skills and investment in local scale-up infrastructure to a supportive policy and regulatory framework.”

He added that with sustainability at the top of many businesses’ agendas, the industrial biotechnology community is well-placed to embrace the opportunities that presents, but it also needs support to rise to the challenge ahead.

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Last year, Labiotech took a look at some of the main players in biotech in Scotland.

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