SCOTLAND’S industrial biotechnology (IB) sector is on course to meet ambitious targets set out in 2013 to reach 200 companies and a turnover of £900 million by 2025.

The targets formed part of the first national plan for the sector, and yesterday Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister, Ivan McKee, delivered an updated plan at the UK’s biggest IB gathering, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s (IBioIC) fifth annual conference in Glasgow – which attracted an audience of more than 450 local and international delegates.

The plans aims to boost growth and innovation, while raising public awareness of a technology that can help deliver a sustainable future. The blueprint also makes public engagement a major priority.

IB is an important contributor to the Scottish economy and also helped reduce our impact on the environment. By using plant-based sources to produce or process materials, chemicals or energy, it has the potential to address some of the world’s biggest challenges by offering green alternatives to fossil fuels.

The industry is on course to meet its first targets, having grown from 43 to more than 110 companies, with an additional 170 jobs created, and a compound annual growth rate of 10% to more than £340m per annum.

One of the main reasons for its success has been the establishment of IBioIC in 2014. It was quickly been recognised as a European centre of excellence for industry-led research, having supported 48 industry/academia collaborative projects with a total value of £14m.

Last August, IBioIC received £11m of core funding for a further five years to continue supporting the rapidly growing industry.

Roger Kilburn, chair of the Scottish IB Development Group, said: “The IB industry in Scotland has strong foundations and has grown significantly over the past five years, but we need to aim even higher.

“Scotland is perfectly placed to become a world leader in industrial biotechnology – we have a highly skilled workforce, well-established IB companies of all sizes who are pursuing aggressive growth, and a unique wealth of relevant natural resources such as algae, agricultural waste and forestry.”

McKee said: “Given Scotland is a world leader in circular economy, the transformative technologies offered by industrial biotechnology further support this by using innovative processes and sustainable raw materials with a reduced carbon footprint.

“I believe the industrial biotechnology industry in Scotland will continue to make a strong contribution to our economy, whilst also reducing our impact on the environment.

“The targets in this plan are ambitious but ambition is the first step to success.”