|26 May 2016|
Scotland’s Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) has opened the UK’s first large-scale bioprocessing centre, allowing hundreds of UK businesses to scale-up and commercialise their concepts without outsourcing abroad.
The new centre, based at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, will focus on research and projects that are ready to scale up and need facilities to trial this at commercial level before investment. Known as FlexBio, the Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre fills the current UK-wide gap in the provision of scale-up facilities at this size and provides many services that cannot be found elsewhere in Europe.
Industrial biotechnology (IB) is a growing sector within Scotland, set to bring £900m to the Scottish economy by 2025. As a young sector, much of the research and projects are new concepts, they need to be tested before entering the commercial field. To save on high expense of a pilot scale operation, these organisations look to use communal centres that offer the equipment needed to test these concepts. Currently though, many organisations are having to take their work abroad in order to do these scale-up tests as there are no facilities within the UK to do so. This results in many of the organisations forming links elsewhere in Europe and millions of pounds being added to the economy in other countries, not the UK.
This facility will be flexible enough to cover all types of industrial bioprocessing; to date there is interest in using the centre for projects as broad as therapeutic antibodies, skin care products, commodity chemicals and bio fuels, showing how widely it can be used by existing industries in the UK.
Ian Archer, Technical Director at IBioIC stated: “We are delighted to be cutting the ribbon on the site today, following an intensive build project over the past two years. The centre opens a wealth of possibility for industry in Scotland and the wider UK and we would like to encourage applications to use the centre from every sector. There will be a technical team available to help non-experts fully utilise the centre, so we hope to see some truly unique and cutting edge projects come from the facility.”
IBioIC recently opened the Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre at the University of Strathclyde, which houses the most advanced technology to assess the potential of new cell lines, bio-products or novel approaches to bioprocessing. The two centres, which attracted a total investment of £2.7m from the Scottish Funding Council, Heriot Watt and the University of Strathclyde, will support the £30m research programme planned by IBioIC over the next five years, providing significant opportunities for Scotland to increase its competitiveness in the global IB market.