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Experts partner up to drive innovation in Scotland’s circular bioeconomy

A boost has been delivered to Scotland’s emerging bioeconomy thanks to a new partnership announced between the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) and Scottish Government-backed Zero Waste Scotland, the country’s circular economy experts.  

11 Nov 21

The three-year partnership aims to drive innovation and growth in Scotland’s circular bioeconomy by identifying opportunities based on sector focussed research; supporting innovators with resources and funding; and bringing stakeholders together to network and collaborate. 

A circular economy is about making the most of the resources we have at every stage – maximising value and making sure nothing is wasted. Combined with industrial biotechnology expertise, an area of science and technology that encompasses sustainable processes and utilises waste products from various sectors, there is a clear opportunity to develop a more circular bioeconomy.

Estimates suggest that it could bring a net worth of £440 billion to the UK economy by 2030.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive at Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Building on previous collaborative success, this is an exciting new partnership which demonstrates both organisations’ commitment to identifying and acting upon opportunities for Scotland in developing a thriving circular bioeconomy. 

“As tackling climate change becomes ever-more urgent, developing a circular bioeconomy in Scotland makes undeniable sense.  Where we take from nature, we should do so sustainably, striving to make the most of the resources cultivated and returning them back to nature where we can for regeneration.  Doing so makes Scotland more resilient and could see us develop world-leading systems and products to the benefit of our economy. 

“Scotland’s policy goals on climate change and achieving Net Zero are ambitious, and the development of a thriving circular bioeconomy is an innovative way for us to act upon these aims and build sustainable foundations for change.”

Mark Bustard, CEO of IBioIC, added:

“We say that one industry’s waste is another’s gold, and that is perhaps one of the simplest ways to explain one of the many links between biotechnology and reaching net-zero. Initially, this partnership will focus on seizing circular opportunities in Scotland’s whisky, aquaculture, and agriculture sectors where we have already identified exciting opportunities for waste and co-products to be used as feed stocks for other, sustainable, materials and products. 

“One exciting project already underway is our Whisky co-products research. This project sees our IBioIC technical team working collaboratively with three of our member companies – Horizon Proteins, MiAlgae and Biopower Technologies with support from the Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI) – to look at the co-products of whisky production and how they can be used for a range of purposes by different companies. The aim is to optimise value chains and explore the best ways to reuse the waste from one of Scotland’s most valuable sectors.

“The partnership with Zero Waste Scotland underlines our commitment to sustainability and we are excited to see the range of opportunities that will emerge.”


Notes For Editors

About the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) was established in 2014 to stimulate growth of the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) sector in Scotland. The National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology set a £900m turnover target to be achieved by 2025.  In 2012 industrial biotechnology turnover in Scotland was less than £200 million, and as of 2019 the figure has grown significantly to £747 million (representing an increase of over 270%), helping it to become a powerhouse of Scotland’s economy. 

IBioIC is recognised as a European centre of excellence and connects world-leading industry with outstanding academic expertise and government to bring new IB processes and products to the global market.

The Centre facilitates collaborations, provides scale-up capabilities, creates networks and develops skills. During 2019-20 IBioIC invested £1.25m in facilities, access to equipment and IBioIC educational programmes through connections with eighteen Scottish universities and research institutes and four further education colleges, with the University of Strathclyde taking a co-ordinating role.

The IB sector makes an important contribution to the Scottish economy, while also reducing our impact on the environment. The growth of IB will help Scotland transition from being an economy largely based on fossil fuels to a more modern, cleaner model, fit for the future.



About Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland exists to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change. 

Using evidence and insight, our goal is to inform policy, and motivate individuals and businesses to embrace the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a circular economy. 

We are a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund.

More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/. You can also keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit our website or follow @scotgovESIF.

For media enquiries contact:

Sophie Thirkell, Communications Consultant (mat cover), Zero Waste Scotland

Mobile: 07966 284095

Email: sophie.thirkell@zerowastescotland.org.uk 


Hollie Fisher, Communications Officer, Zero Waste Scotland

Telephone: 01786 239712

Email: hollie.fisher@zerowastescotland.org.uk

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