Scotland’s industrial biotech sector sets new 2025 goals: 4,000 workers and £1.2bn turnover

Scotland’s industrial biotechnology sector could be worth £1.2 billion in three years’ time and support more than 4,000 people after exceeding growth expectations over the past decade.

By Scott Reid
Monday, 6th June 2022, 12:29 pm

Collective annual turnover is on track to top that figure by 2025, according to a refreshed strategy launched at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s (IBioIC) annual conference.

The updated plan outlines new ambitions for Scotland’s bioeconomy, including reaching a target of 220 companies operating in the sector and more than 4,000 employees by 2025, reflecting the increasingly important role of industrial biotechnology in the transition to net zero.

Updates to the figures follow analysis from IBioIC that showed businesses active in industrial biotechnology accounted for more than £790 million in turnover during 2020, increasing from just £189m in 2012 - prior to the launch of the first iteration of the strategy and the formation of the innovation centre.

Initial targets of the national plan were set at £900m turnover and 2,500 employees by 2025.

Industrial biotechnology is already supporting the creation of more sustainable materials, consumer goods and pharmaceuticals by using bio-based alternatives to petrochemicals, maximising the re-use of by-products and minimising waste in the process.

IBioIC connects industry with academic expertise to support companies to bring new bio-based processes and products to the global market. Almost £30m of additional industry investment has been generated as a direct result of innovation activities to date, contributing to more than 3,000 “high-value green jobs”, bosses noted.

Mark Bustard, chief executive of IBioIC, said: “Reaching net zero is going to be a big challenge for Scotland, but it also presents opportunities to embrace biotechnology as a means of getting there.

Mark Bustard, chief executive of IBioIC. Picture: Chris Watt

“We are already making great progress with the bioeconomy in Scotland, which has grown considerably over the past decade - so much so that we now have new ambitious, but achievable, targets to work towards.

“By supporting businesses to embrace more sustainable products, materials and processes through industrial biotechnology, we can secure local supply chains, create green jobs, and fuel economic growth. However, with a climate emergency upon us, we need to do more and do it quickly: the new national plan sets out some of the required steps to make that a reality.

“With sustainability at the top of many businesses’ agendas, the industrial biotechnology community is well-placed to embrace the opportunities that presents, but it also needs support to rise to the challenge ahead.”

Suzanne Sosna, director of economic opportunities and climate at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This refreshed strategy will help achieve Scotland’s economic and net zero ambitions, while creating high quality jobs and accelerating the growth of Scotland’s biotechnology sector.”

Scottish business and enterprise minister Ivan McKee added: “It is encouraging that Scotland’s vibrant industrial biotechnology sector is ahead of schedule to meet targets set out in Scotland’s original national plan and has ambitious new goals for growth.

“Our National Strategy for Economic Transformation, launched earlier this year, sets out our plans for the next decade and highlights industrial biotechnology as a current and future key industry for Scotland that is fostering innovative and sustainable ways of using biological processes.”

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