Partnership fuels chemicals future 

Scottish Development International

Industrial biotechnology is set to play a major role

Copyright: Rex Features

Several initiatives are underway to promote industrial biotechnology in Scotland and increase its commercial adoption in high-value areas

By Karen Harries-Rees, London

Industrial biotechnology (IB) has the potential to transform many of Scotland’s key sectors, by delivering new innovation, inward investment and export opportunities, and by contributing to Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

The National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology, launched in November 2013, aims to transform the competitiveness and sustainability of industries in Scotland by developing and applying IB within an emerging bioeconomy.

Scotland has many of the building blocks it needs to develop a bioeconomy, including a strong reputation in academic research, industry leading companies with operations in Scotland, and abundant natural resources.

However, it also faces a number of challenges including a low level of IB take-up by companies and low levels of industry investment in R&D. It needs to overcome resistance among businesses to adopt new technologies and redress the lack of testing and scale-up facilities.

The plan aims to increase IB turnover from £189m (€240m) in 2013 to £900m by 2025, equivalent to a gross value-added contribution of £250m, and boost the number of employees in the sector from 1,103 to more than 2,500.

Developed by a working group of Chemical Sciences Scotland, designated the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group, the plan will be delivered through four key themes:

  • Industry engagement – to help increase awareness and uptake of IB technologies
  • Biorefinery/biochemical facility – to scope out the potential to make this a reality
  • Skills – to help address any skills shortages or barriers to developing IB
  • Networks of innovation centres – to position Scotland as a leading hub for IB innovation with a network of collaborative innovation centres.


“Really significant progress has been made since the launch” 

Sarah Petrie
Project manager – industries, Scottish Enterprise

Scotland has a thriving chemical sciences cluster recognised as one of the most accessible, well connected and collaborative in Europe. We are home to some of the world’s leading chemicals companies, and have a growing number of supply chain opportunities for international companies. To find out more, please visit

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Scottish Development International (SDI) is a joint venture with partnerships that include the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Business Gateway Scotland and TalentScotland. If your company is considering Scotland, we can provide a full support service, whether it’s to invest, relocate, partner, trade or expand here. From finance to premises, specialist advice to market information, there’s not much we don’t offer. All delivered via our 41 offices in 19 countries across the globe. So chances are there’s a Scottish expert you can speak to close by.

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