Scottish biotech firms to benefit from £847,000 investment

Article by Aniqah Majid

Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC)
Startups will have open access to a new fermenter at IBioIC's FlexBio facility

BIO-BASED manufacturing companies in Scotland are set to reap the benefits of an £847,000 (US$1.1m) investment from Scottish Enterprise.

The government funding will allow the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) to purchase and install a new fermenter at its FlexBio scaleup facility in Edinburgh.

The fermenter, a bioreactor used to cultivate microorganisms, can hold 300 l of biomass, ten times the capacity of the facility’s current fermenter.

By adding a second fermenter, the FlexBio facility will be able to support two projects at a time while also demonstrating the scaleup possibilities of products initially tested in the 30 L bioreactor.

CEO of IBioIC, Mark Bustard, said: “Combined with our years of experience at FlexBio supporting a range of early-stage ideas, the 300 l fermenter will enable us to offer greater assistance to aspiring biotech companies, anchoring them in Scotland.”

Speciality chemicals to alternative proteins

IBioIC launched FlexBio in 2016 as a bioprocessing scaleup facility specialising in semi-pilot scale (up to 30 l) projects using microorganisms like yeast, E. coli, algae, and mammalian cells. The end products from these projects vary from speciality chemicals and polymers to dyes and alternative proteins.

Based at Heriot-Watt University, the facility has supported more than 60 projects, and most recently facilitated a project that uses fermentation to extract valuable elements from seaweed for commercial use.

Driving Scotland’s biotechnology sector

IBioIC was launched in 2014 as part of Scotland’s National Plan for Biotechnology and has since attracted £35m of additional funding for R&D, supporting more than 260 companies through projects valued at £6.8m.

The centre has directly contributed to the Scottish industrial biotechnology sector’s exceeding growth expectations which is on track to achieve an associated turnover of £1.2bn by 2025.

Scottish innovation minister Richard Lochhead said: “This investment will help more businesses overcome the scaleup challenge of turning lab-based science into industry-ready products, and I look forward to it helping encourage further innovations and advancements in the coming years.” 

The centre expects the fermenter to be installed in Q1 2025 and operational shortly after.

Article by Aniqah Majid

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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