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Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland highlights macroalgae as a longer term feedstock

In the next step towards growing Scotland’s bioeconomy, the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group, supported by Scottish Enterprise, has released the Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland at the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum Showcase in London. The Roadmap outlines the actions required and the support needed to contribute to industry’s goal of increasing turnover in industrial biotechnology from £189m in 2012 to £900m by 2025, as was laid out in the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology.

As part of the forward plan, Scotland is interested in establishing biorefineries through infrastructure, investment, collaboration and technology transfer. The Roadmap will be delivered through four key themes over the next ten years:

  • Innovate in Scotland – to develop the unique resources and capabilities in Scotland to create compelling cases for biorefineries;
  • Engage Industry – to identify and work with companies that will deliver the biorefineries in Scotland;
  • Foster Research & Innovation – to strengthen research and innovation in biorefining technologies and markets; and
  • Stimulate Market Demand – to create the market environment for investment.

Alan Wolstenholme, Chairman of the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Development Group, commented: “Biorefining has an important role to play in driving Scotland’s low-carbon agenda and the Biorefinery Roadmap is the beginning of the journey. Building on existing expertise in chemicals, life sciences and engineering, key Scottish stakeholders are committed to following the Roadmap to ensure that further investment and development in biorefining will not only boost Scottish manufacturing, but will push the country to the forefront of sector developments in Europe.

“Essential to these efforts will be the partnerships that will need to be undertaken across private, public and academic institutions. I’m proud to say that this is already taking place at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), for example, and through other initiatives. TheRoadmap further defines the importance of this sort of industry engagement for the future of the bioeconomy and to the benefit of society.”

Caroline Strain, head of chemical sciences at Scottish Enterprise, added, “The Biorefinery Roadmap applies Scotland’s current research and engineering strengths to a longer term vision that will ultimately enable the country to take a significant role in the world’s industrial biotechnology sector. Scottish Enterprise will prioritise the actions laid out in theRoadmap and welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with other talented leaders.

“We see the concept of a biorefinery as a vehicle through which Scotland can deliver its ambitions to be a location of choice for sustainable high-value manufacturing for chemical and pharmaceutical businesses.”

In developing the Biorefinery Roadmap, a number of priority areas of opportunity have been identified to form the base of the path forward, and will grow to generate significant supply chain prospects for both local and international companies. Identified areas of opportunity for Scotland include:

  • Feedstock opportunities – The bio-fraction of household, commercial and industrial waste is considered to be the greatest opportunity for biorefining feedstocks in Scotland, as well as forest co-products and in the longer term, macroalgae.
  • Technology platforms – Scotland’s strengths are in industrial biotechnology, chemical synthesis and material science amongst others. To support the development of a biorefining sector, Scotland aims to address current gaps in the pilot and demonstration stages.
  • Products –The development of products which are competitive on price and functionality is essential and Scotland will focus on developing product value propositions and integrated supply chains.

The report includes a foreword by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, who urges business to “take serious consideration to biorefining in order to benefit from this fast-growing, innovative and burgeoning sector.”

On the subject of macroalgae feedstocks, the report says:

"Although there is some uncertainty around the total volumes of macroalgae that might be available and how they might be sustainably harvested, this abundant natural resource could provide the country with a niche opportunity in the medium to long-term. Due to the length of Scotland’s coastline and area of its continental shelf, the country boasts a large suitable habitat for macroalgae. There needs to be further assessment of production costs and the market price that would have to be realised to stimulate the supply chain."

To download the full report, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.


Story source: Scottish Enterprise press release, 12 Feb 2015

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