IBioIC conference: net zero aim in a bio-economy

Now is the time for Scotland’s biotechnology sector to become a world leader in tackling the net zero challenge. Mark Bustard, chief executive of IBioIC, says the scale of the task is huge but the opportunities for jobs and economic growth through environmentally friendly innovation have to be grasped.

Industrial biotechnology is harnessing the longstanding knowledge and skillsets of the traditional chemical industries and combining it with world-class life science research
Industrial biotechnology is harnessing the longstanding knowledge and skillsets of the traditional chemical industries and combining it with world-class life science research

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) in Glasgow is preparing for its annual conference. In person following the pandemic, it is the largest industrial biotechnology conference in the UK and attracts hundreds of key figures across the sector including policy, research, commercial and academic experts.

IBioIC’s work in bringing together industry and academia to help drive products and processes towards the commercial market will be at the heart of the conference which this year has a theme of how sustainable development in industrial biotechnology can secure the path to net zero.

Much of IBioIC’s activity revolves around scaling up concepts by bringing academics and companies together to provide a proof of concept so an idea can move into the manufacturing sector. It may sound complex but Dr Bustard highlights some examples of success.

Mark Bustard is chief executive of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) in Glasgow

Cyanofeed uses the biomass production of microbes to produce supplements for animal feed while fish oil waste is a source for the production of bio-based surfactants by Ecoclean. Sugarbeet is high on the agenda for IBioIC which has completed a study that found the crop could provide enough bioethanol for all of Scotland’s E10 fuel needs. Having a domestic supply of sugarbeet could also significantly reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by more than 280,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – the equivalent of taking nearly 61,000 cars off the road per year. There is now a move towards scoping the viability of a biorefinery plant in Dundee or Grangemouth.

“Net zero is a huge challenge but equally there is a huge opportunity for Scotland,” says Dr Bustard. “If we embrace the bio-economy and see more translation of fantastic biotechnology out of the powerhouse universities into the commercial realm, that is a win for Scotland.”

Industrial biotechnology is harnessing the longstanding knowledge and skillsets of the traditional chemical industries and combining it with world-class life science research. Dr Bustard adds: “Our ambition for Scotland is that it leads the way in biotechnology and enabling the just transition of the petrochemical industry but steadily moving away from our reliance on fossil fuel-based sources of carbon. We still need the products but we need to become more sustainable.”

The conference will also touch on the refresh of Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology. Dr Bustard says there is a will to “extend the ambition” of the plan which is already well on its way to meeting the target of a turnover of £900m by 2025, with £750m recorded in 2020.

Sugarbeet is high on the agenda for IBioIC which has completed a study that found the crop could provide enough bioethanol for all of Scotland’s E10 fuel needs

Book your space

To find out more about IBioIC and its annual conference, which will be held at the Technology and Innovation Centre, Glasgow, on June 6 and 7, go to https://ibioicconference.com/tickets