The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) at Strathclyde University in Glasgow brings together a number of Scottish higher education institutions and private sector firms, including Ineos and drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Industrial biotechnology involves the production of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, energy and materials in a way that is both cost effective and causes minimal damage to the environment. The market is estimated to grow so that it will be worth between £150 billion and £360bn globally by 2025, with the UK industry anticipated to be worth £4bn to £12bn.
An independent assessment of IBioIC has forecast it will generate £130m of gross value added (GVA) for the Scottish economy, creating 1,500 jobs directly and indirectly within five years.
Finance secretary John Swinney said the new centre would help place the country “at the forefront of a global transformational change” from an economy that was largely based on fossil fuels to one that was more inclusive of industrial biotechnology.
Speaking at a launch event for the new centre, he added: “The creation of 1,500 jobs is a fantastic boost for Scotland’s expanding biotechnology industry. Scotland’s chemical industry is the country’s second top exporter – equating to £3.7bn per year – while Scotland’s life sciences sector is one of the largest and fastest-growing in Europe.
“The launch of IBioIC is predicted to add £130m to the Scottish economy and will allow Scotland to be at the forefront of global transformational change from a largely fossil fuel-based to an industrial biotechnology-inclusive economy.”
IBioIC chairman Ian Shott described the initiative as a “collaboration of businesses and higher education institutions with the ambition to be truly distinctive, world-leading and responsive to the market and technology needs of industry”.
He added that the aim was to surpass the target set in Scotland’s national plan for industrial biotechnology by raising the estimated turnover of industrial biotechnology-related products from around £190m currently to between £2bn and £3bn by 2030.
The centre is being funded with £10m from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), as well as being supported by both Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
SFC interim chief executive Laurence Howells said: “Industrial biotechnology has wide- reaching benefits for us all, whether it is turning waste into energy and products or improving the way we manufacture food, drink, vaccines and antibiotics.
“I am in no doubt of the huge contribution IBioIC will make to economic growth and job creation in Scotland, whilst reducing our impact on the environment.”
A total of 13 higher education institutions will be involved in the centre, with Strathclyde University taking a co- ordinating role.
Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: “As a single, national facility, IBioIC will enable Scotland – with its established industry base, world-class academic expertise and natural resources – to accelerate our globally-distinctive positioning and capability in the industrial biotechnology market.”