Edinburgh-based biotech firm Celtic Renewables smashes fundraising target

A biotech company has raised more than £1.3 million just days after launching its latest crowdfunding campaign to accelerate its global expansion.

Celtic Renewables, which was established to produce biofuel from the by-products of the Scotch whisky industry, has attracted more than 1,300 investors on the Crowdcube platform and already smashed its initial £1m target.

The new fundraising campaign comes just a year after it raised £3.68m on the platform – the largest achieved by a Scottish firm – and taking the total raised by the company since it was founded less than a decade ago to £35m.

Last week, the Edinburgh-based company announced that it was accelerating its global growth plans after securing a major new deal with a leading supplier to the life sciences industry.

Celtic Renewables recently opened Scotland's first biorefinery at Caledon Green in Grangemouth. Picture: contributed.

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It plans to scale up its operations worldwide after striking an arrangement with Caldic, which operates from 19 countries across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Celtic Renewables also recently opened Scotland's first biorefinery at Caledon Green in Grangemouth. Built by Fife-based Muir Construction, it will be able to produce a million litres of sustainable biochemicals annually.

The multi-million-pound plant will use Celtic Renewables’ patented technology to convert 50,000 tonnes of biological material into renewable chemicals, sustainable biofuel, and other commercially and environmentally valuable commodities.

The company plans to build five large-scale refineries worldwide in the next five years and said the latest crowdfunding campaign will support the expansion.

It also said discussions were “well under way” with a number of multinational companies that would provide brand new types of feedstocks for its process.

Under the deal with Caldic, the supplier to the life science and speciality chemical industries will distribute the bio-solvents produced by Celtic Renewables which are an alternative to the fossil-fuel-produced products currently used.

Inspiration

Celtic Renewables business was founded by Professor Martin Tangney who had set up the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University in 2007 to conduct research, inspired by biofuel pioneer David Ramey’s 10,000-mile journey across the USA in a car fuelled by biobutanol.

Professor Tangney began looking at the whisky distillation process, which produces huge quantities of organic by-products including barley residues called draff, which are difficult to dispose of.

He worked on ways to combine the residues with the liquid effluent from the still to create a new raw material from which high-value, low-carbon products such as butanol and ethanol could be extracted – and the Irish native was in 2018 awarded an honorary OBE for his services to engineering and energy.

The processes developed by the company are now used to handle wastes and residues across a number of different industries. As well cutting the cost of disposal for businesses, the company’s work ties in with ambitions for a circular economy.

The company received backing from private investors, Scottish Enterprise and the UK government to get the business off the ground.

In 2015 it was named the most innovative biotech small or medium-sized enterprise in Europe. It has gone on to win numerous other awards across a variety of sectors.

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