Hopes for 500 jobs as £11m awarded to boost biotech

Sector aims to grow to �900m industry by 2025. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.
Sector aims to grow to �900m industry by 2025. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.
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An £11 million funding package announced today aims to stimulate the creation of hundreds of new jobs in the industrial biotechnology sector in Scotland.

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) has been awarded the five-year funding deal to support the Scottish Government’s strategy for the sector, which by 2023 aims to create a total of 1,400 jobs and boost Scotland’s economy by £130m.

The £11m package from the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is targeting the creation of 500 jobs in the sector, which uses biological sources to produce or process materials, chemicals or energy. Practical examples include the processing of plants to produce biofuels or plastics as an alternative to crude oil.

Minister for trade, investment and innovation Ivan McKee, said: “Scotland has the natural resources and infrastructure that make it the perfect place for industrial biotechnology to thrive, bringing significant economic benefits.

“Today’s investment builds on the £120m already invested in Scotland’s eight innovation centres, which are already having a transformational effect on our economy.”

The cash injection will support IBioIC to drive forward the sector in Scotland through a partnership of business and academic know-how and to take it to a £900m industry by 2025.

The centre will focus on key areas including leadership, accelerating commercialisation and creating a skilled workforce. This next phase of activity will be overseen by the new chair of the IBioIC governing board, Dame Anne Glover.

She said: “Industrial biotechnology is an enabling technology, which underpins innovation in multiple sectors, and can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels, as well as supporting sustainable production.”

The centre now has 114 members, from large companies including GlaxoSmithKline to start-ups.

Roger Kilburn, chief executive of the centre, which aims to serve as a facilitator between industry, academia and government, said: “Over the last five years, IBioIC has helped to channel over £50m of funding into businesses and research projects.

“We’re delighted to welcome Dame Anne onto our governing board as we enter our ambitious second phase of five year funding, where she will help us build on our success and continue to accelerate the growth of businesses of all sizes, across multiple sectors with this disruptive technology.”

Under the latest funding, the Scottish Funding Council will invest £7.8m, Scottish Enterprise £2.8m and £500,000 will be invested by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.