What impact is the industrial biotech (IB) sector making in Scotland, the UK, Europe and beyond? This question was at the core of the discussions when industry, academia, public sector representatives and students gathered in Glasgow at the end of January for the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s, (IBioIC) 3rd annual conference ´Delivering Impact´.
To gather over 400 participants for a regional conference on industrial biotech, shows that there is a strong and supportive environment for the sector, said Roger Kilburn, CEO of IBioIC, upon conclusion of the conference. Indeed, with a 10% yearly growth rate, the Scottish IB market is developing fast and Scotland is already more than mid-way through to its 2020 industry target of £400 million, with the value of IB to the economy reaching £230 million in 2014. In light of further accelerating this, the event saw the announcement by IBioIC of over £700,000 of investment in Scottish microenterprises. Five collaborative research projects, aiming to enable sustainable solutions through, amongst others, the development of a sustainable protein or maximising the value of seaweed, will receive funding.
Over the two-day event, around 70 speakers from 10 countries across three continents presented opportunities and challenges, policy updates or market and technical developments for the sector. Amongst others, keynote speakers Ian Hudson, former President of DuPont EMEA and Alan Shaw, CEO of Calysta gave participants European and global perspectives on the current landscape for IB, and its grand challenges.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy informed the delegates about the strong interest shown in the Bioeconomy Accelerator Funding Call, launched in October. He emphasised the importance of the bioeconomy and IB, and the central role of innovation in the Scottish government’s economic programme. One year has also passed since the publication of the Scottish Circular Economy Strategy, including an ambitious target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025. In addition to the food and drink sector, opportunities that the move towards a circular economy brings were further raised, including for the manufacturing sector, noting that the Circular Economy Strategy and the Manufacturing Strategy are closely linked.
With work currently ongoing to shape a UK Bioeconomy Strategy, Mark Turner, head of Agri-tech, Bioeconomy and Chemicals, BEIS, referred among other things to this work, and the importance of innovation and innovative sectors such as IB.
by Agnes Borg