Scottish industrial biotechnology sector hurtles towards £900m milestone

Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector is on course to surpass a 2025 revenue target of £900 million after a surge in the number of companies operating within it.

Industrial biotechnology is a set of technologies that will underpin the transition towards a 'bioeconomy', creating materials and goods that have traditionally been made from oil products – such as plastics – with natural ingredients.

Industrial biotechnology firms are “exceeding growth expectations” and now deliver combined revenues of nearly £750m, according to figures that will be unveiled at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s (IBioIC) annual conference.

New analysis from IBioIC has found that businesses active in industrial biotechnology accounted for £747m in turnover last year, increasing from £189m in 2012.

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That places the 130 companies – up from 24 in 2012 – ahead of a target of reaching £900m by the end of 2025, set out in 2013’s national plan for industrial biotechnology. Projections made for the strategy had set an ambition of reaching £400m by 2020.

Industrial biotechnology is a set of technologies that will underpin the transition towards a “bioeconomy”, creating materials and goods that have traditionally been made from oil products – such as plastics – with natural ingredients.

Mark Bustard, chief executive of the 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.

“However, there is still a significant amount of work to do in order to deliver the ambitions set out in the national plan. 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.”

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) was established in 2014 to stimulate growth of the industrial biotechnology sector in Scotland.

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