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“Industrial biotech is largely around using more sustainable feedstocks for manufacturing materials, pharmaceuticals, energy and fuel,” Kilburn explains.
“But the people that currently have those raw materials don’t necessarily see themselves as part of those industries.
“What surprised me was the amount that was going on,” he says.
“We identified 207 research teams working in Scotland.
Since its launch in 2014, IBio IC has helped Scotland position itself as a significant player in the bio-economy by forging links between academia, industry and government, raising the nation’s profile on the international stage and helping fledgling businesses push forward their ingenious biotech innovations.
“Cells United is extracting amino acids from fish waste, purifying it and putting it into high-performance, high-protein energy drinks for elite sportsmen,” adds Kilburn.
“Fish waste is a problem, normally half your salmon is a waste.” A key focus is to help develop the next generation of IB scientists with MSc and Ph D funding, work placements for students – most of which result in employment – and upskilling today’s workforce to take advantage of the emerging sector.
So far almost 100 MSc students have graduated – nearly 30 have just started their course – and IBio IC is currently funding 45 Ph D studentships, all with industry sponsors.
Universities are good at invention, other people innovate.
“We were established to encourage academics to work on problems that industry wanted to solve.
“I was presenting on investing in Scotland,” he recalls.