Industrial Biotechnology Centre investment tops £25m

IBioIC technical director Ian Archer

Total investment in green skills led by the Glasgow-based Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) has topped a “milestone” £25 million, new figures reveal.

The amount is based on the combined investment in the innovation centre’s skills programmes including industry contributions completed since IBioIC’s inception in 2014.

In that time, more than 450 students have worked alongside 80 biotechnology companies to support pioneering research initiatives across a range of sectors.

Businesses that have sponsored student placements and projects include FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, a global contract development and manufacturing organisation for biologics, vaccines and advanced therapies, and Ingenza, a Scottish biotech company with products ranging from consumer goods to sustainable fuels.

IBioIC is the lead driver of Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology, which outlines a target of more than 4,000 direct employees in the sector by 2025.

The plan also highlights that current and projected demand for qualified people in the sector significantly exceeds supply.

IBioIC technical director Ian Archer said: “Skills are a crucial element of Scotland’s transition to net zero emissions in manufacturing.

“As manufacturing evolves to embrace more bio-based processes, we will need more people with technical skills to help grow that to scale.

“But, importantly, those technical skills need to be combined with commercial and practical application. Already, we are hearing of early-stage companies struggling to take the next steps because of a limited talent pool.

“Our skills programmes are designed to help bridge some of the gaps between academic study and the jobs market, with hands-on industry experience a core element of each course.

“It is encouraging to see so many companies in our network supporting the development of the workforce, while at the same time utilising students’ skills to help develop ideas.”

Andy Topping, chief scientific officer at FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, added: “The skills training that IBioIC has provided to the PhD students placed at FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in our Centre of Excellence in BioProcessing has perfectly complemented the experiences that they receive from academic research and on-the-job training.

“It is hugely valued both by the students and [the company], which is reflected in the close collaboration both entities enjoy.”