SCOTLAND’s global competitiveness in biorefining and industrial biotechnology (IB) has been outlined to an audience of almost 1000 industry leaders, academics and policy makers at a conference in the US.

In his opening address to the Bio World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Iowa, Roger Kilburn, chair of the Scottish IB Development Group and chief executive of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), said IBioIC was unlocking biorefining potential in Scotland.

He also presented the Biorefinery Road Map – Building a Sustainable Future, which demonstrates Scotland’s competitiveness in the field and in attracting inward investment.

Biorefining is the processing of renewable feedstocks into a spectrum of products, including food, feed, fuels, chemicals, heat and power, and Kilburn said Scotland can utilise more than 27 million tonnes of biobased waste and co-products every year.

He said the road map showed how manufacturers can decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase the emphasis on sustainability by using biological resources instead of traditional petroleum-based methods.

Scotland’s location and geography provided competitively priced, green, renewable energy from wind, which could potentially power biorefineries across key resource streams, including agricultural and forestry biomasses, whisky co-products, and carbon dioxide.

Kilburn said this provided the feedstock and energy needed to utilise IB to make useful products and drive Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon future.

He said: “I am delighted to be able to position Scotland as a key player in a global bioeconomy at the congress.

“The BIO World Congress is the perfect platform for IBioIC to establish and strengthen direct relationships with many leading companies, individuals and institutions and detail how IBioIC is facilitating the development of symbiotic relationships between Scotland’s feedstock, infrastructure and innovative biorefining technologies to build new value chains.”

A national plan for IB in Scotland was launched in 2013 aimed at increasing IB turnover from £189 million to £900m by 2025. The document acknowledged that biorefineries would be key to help achieve these goals and the road map supports that ambition.

Kilburn said there were already had several successes: “In 2015, Scotland opened its first pilot scale biorefinery and Scotland’s first demonstration scale biorefinery is currently being built. This document is industry led and details the opportunities and support that is required over the next six years to realise commercial success for biorefineries in Scotland.

“I would urge manufacturing businesses in all sectors to explore and embrace how Industrial biotechnology innovation can enhance and diversify their operations.”