|17 October 2016|


Scotland’s Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) has announced a multi-million pound package of support for six game-changing synthetic biology projects.

The Glasgow-headquartered centre will provide £3 million of investment across six projects including greener skincare products, more sustainable plastics and improvements to personalised medicine therapies. The synthetic biology market is expected to reach $38.7 billion globally by 2020 – according to Allied Market Research – and it is an area of IB transforming a diverse range of sectors.

Earlier this year IBioIC launched a funding call for projects in synthetic biology, which called for companies anywhere in the world to collaborate with Scotland’s outstanding academics in the area of synthetic biology and the results are in.

The announcement comes on the eve of the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB) – being held in Glasgow this week – and is further evidence of the central role Scotland is playing the IB sector.

Ian Archer, Technical Director of IBioIC said: “With the global synthetic biology market estimated to grow by more than 40% by the end of the decade, it is no wonder that synthetic biology is high on the agenda of organisations worldwide; we’re proud to be accelerating innovation in the area and of the academic capabilities Scotland can offer the world.”

Innovators Magazine is a media partner of this week’s EFIB showcase and we’ll be distributing a special conference edition, which looks at the leading role Scotland is playing in the global biotechnology industry. The magazine will also be available on our site from tomorrow.


The six projects:

Synpromics with University of Edinburgh  – In this 24-month project, Scotland based Synpromics will be working with the University of Edinburgh to identify ‘switches’ within tissues for gene therapies such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases; accelerating the future of personalised medicine. 

Lucite International with University of St Andrews – Lucite International and its parent company Mitsubishi Rayon are responsible for around 40% of the world’s acrylic glass materials (often referred to as Perspex or Plexiglas). They already have the world’s most environmentally friendly process for manufacturing the monomers, the building blocks of acrylic glass. This 24-month project with University of St Andrews will develop a novel bioprocess to make Plexiglas monomers more sustainable. They aim to make the chemistry even ‘greener’ by engineering the organisms involved to make more efficient use of carbon and reduce CO2 emissions even further. 

Unilever with University of Edinburgh – Multi-national Unilever is a leader in the manufacture of personal hygiene products and will work with University of Edinburgh over 24 months to develop a large scale, green manufacturing process for a new class of cosmetic chemical. Together, they will engineer yeast which can manufacture a range of plant extracts that can, in turn, be used as natural cleansers in skin products. 

Ingenza Ltd with University of Glasgow Ingenza has a broad customer base across the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, feed and fuel industries. Working with the University of Glasgow over 18 months they will develop a technology to monitor biotechnology experiments in real time. The technology will enable the challenging task of bioprocess optimisation to be achieved much more efficiently and will benefit all bioprocesses from production of biopharmaceuticals to beer! 

Twist Bioscience with University of Edinburgh  – With their expertise in DNA, Twist Bioscience will be collaborating with the Edinburgh University Genome Foundry over two years to generate a set of genetic building blocks for yeast. The project will deliver new commercial tools for the engineering of yeast to produce a variety of chemicals from fuel to pharmaceuticals. 

Nissan Chemicals with University of Glasgow – Japan-based chemical manufacturing company Nissan Chemicals will work with University of Glasgow over 18 months to engineer bacteria cell ‘factories’ to produce carotenoids. This is the pigment which gives colour to plants such as ripe tomatoes, carrots and autumn leaves. Carotenoids can be used across the production of pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and food chemicals.