|27 January 2017|

Scotland

Scottish small businesses specialising in industrial biotechnology (IB) are set to make a major impact in a booming national market – on track to be worth over £400 million by 2020 – thanks to new funding support announced today.

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) confirmed over £700,000 of investment for Scottish IB at its third Annual IBioIC Conference in Glasgow to an audience of over 400 industry executives and academics from across the globe.

Spread across five research projects, the funding will boost research in areas such as new and environmentally-friendly protein production, new tools for vaccines and therapies, processes to increase the value of seaweed crops, bioprocessing and natural pigment production. 

Roger Kilburn, CEO of IBioIC said: “Ultimately, IB will become the size of the chemical industry ($5.2 trillion globally in 2015) as it uses bio-resources to replace fossil fuel feedstocks. With the Scottish market growing by 10% a year, we’re proud to be enabling smaller businesses to accelerate growth in the sector and support their access to the excellent academic capabilities of our Scottish higher education institutions. This transition needs academia and industry partners of all sizes to work together and catalyse growth.”

There is a global desire to shift from using chemical processes to more natural, environmentally-friendly solutions. As demand soars, finding new technologies and processes to replace chemicals has become more critical and a big business opportunity. Industrial biotechnology solutions are emerging each day and are found not just in the large conglomerate companies, but often in small businesses and microenterprises with just a handful of employees. These companies often have the flexibility and niche expertise to develop new concepts quicker and more efficiently once funding is received.

Each of these IBioIC funded projects is collaborative in nature and will enable industry partners and Scottish academics to work together, sharing the best expertise and newest concepts. Recipients of the funding are (full details of each project can be found further down the page):

 

·         3f bio Ltd and University of Strathclyde: to address the global need for sustainable protein

·         Alfacyte and University of Edinburgh: to enable better vaccine and disease therapies

·         Marine Biopolymers, James Hutton Institute and Glasgow University: to innovate seaweed extraction and maximise value from crops

·         Scottish Bioenergy and University of Edinburgh: to increase the production of natural pigments from bacteria

·         Carbogenics and University of Edinburgh: to intensify biological manufacturing; increasing revenues

The value of IB to the Scottish economy in 2014 was £230 million, while the 2020 target for the industry is £400 million – IBioIC’s investment in these collaborative projects will ensure that microenterprises are part of this economic growth. A total investment of £780,000 has been sourced, with £520,000 investment from IBioIC and the rest from the industry and academic project partners.

The recipient projects in detail:

Developing a sustainable protein – 3f bio and University of Strathclyde

Mycoprotein is the protein component in Quorn™, the market leading branded meat-free healthy protein, which has a proven market in the $850 billion global market for human protein. 3f bio’s technology combines an established process for manufacturing mycoprotein with an integrated production method that leads to zero-waste by using a biorefinery. This project will evaluate and demonstrate the technology with alternative protein types enabling global scalability of the technology.

Developing new proteins for vaccines and therapies – Alfacyte and University of Edinburgh

Alfacyte has invented a novel protein (biologic) which has the potential to treat a variety of human diseases. This collaboration will use this knowledge to develop a new generation of tools for use across vaccinations, allergies, inflammatory conditions, and cancer.

Maximising the value of seaweed – Marine Biopolymers, James Hutton Institute and Glasgow University

Marine Biopolymers (MBL) has developed a unique way to extract components from seaweed. This project will focus specifically on the plant, Laminaria Hyperborea, commonly known as tangle or cuvie. The stem of this plant has a range of high-value components which can be extracted including iodine and fucoidan (used as dietary supplements). The bark can also be used as a low-cost fertiliser. This project aims to capture and create much greater value from LH by developing extraction and commercialisation pathways for its use.

Natural pigmentation development – Scottish Bioenergy and University of Edinburgh

Cyanobacteria, so-called due to their blue appearance, are an established source for the production of natural pigments. Scottish Bioenergy, an algal biotechnology company, has the capacity to produce a range of biochemicals to high levels of purity. This project seeks to facilitate the commercial scale up of high value cyanobacteria-based pigment production.

Intensifying biological manufacturing – Carbogenics and University of Edinburgh

This project aims to accelerate the commercialisation of CreChar® – a carbon additive developed from waste, which speeds up processes in biological manufacturing. Profitability in anaerobic digestion (AD) and soil bioremediation both suffer if activity levels of the required microorganisms are low; a problem which CreChar® can alleviate, leading to a higher revenues and lower costs.

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