9/29/2014 12:00:00 AM News

Argyll-based company wins funding in biotechnology innovation competition

The first successful projects in a funding competition run by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) have been announced with two Scottish SME’s leading the way.

The Exemplar Project Competition aims to support the development of new products and manufacturing processes to bring them closer to commercial realisation.

The successful projects aim to develop improved methods for the manufacture of a number of different products using both bacterial and micro-algal systems.

IBioIC is contributing almost £400,000 to the first three projects with a further contribution of almost £350,000 being made by the academic and industrial partners.

The first two applicants that have been successful in the first IBioIC Exemplar Project Competition are Argyll-based GlycoMar and Edinburgh-based Ingenza.

GlycoMar, located at the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology, near Oban, develops products and services for the human healthcare and personal care markets. Its project will use a microalga, a single-celled species found in sea water, to produce an active ingredient for the cosmetic sector. If successful, it will deliver the first example of a new high value product from UK marine biotechnology using microalgae for sustainable industrial biotechnology production.

The project also involves the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the University of Strathclyde, the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership at The University of Edinburgh and Norwegian-based company MicroA A/S.

Charlie Bavington, Managing Director of GlycoMar said: “IBioIC funding has offered GlycoMar and MicroA an opportunity to work with SAMS, University of Strathclyde, and University of Edinburgh to solve some of the problems we have encountered while scaling up the production of our microalgal cosmetic product. The outcomes of this project are likely to be very important to the commercial viability of the product.”

Ingenza is a worldwide leader in applying industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology to the manufacture of chemicals, biologics, pharmaceuticals and biofuels, from renewable sources. Its project will use engineered bacteria for the scalable biosynthesis of products traditionally made from petrochemical starting materials. The resulting bioprocess will deliver sustainable manufacturing of valuable industrial chemicals. The project is a collaboration between Ingenza and University of Strathclyde.

Ian Fotheringham, Managing Director of Ingenza, said: “This collaboration with Strathclyde University, supported by IBioIC, will help us determine why some of our engineered microbes show superior productivity over others. We can then apply that learning to increase both speed and predictability in achieving optimised industrial processes. IBioIC is a critical enabler in the Scottish biotechnology community”.

Roger Kilburn, CEO of IBioIC, said: “This is a key milestone in the delivery of the IBioIC Vision to achieve the commercial development of industrial biotechnology in Scotland. It is very exciting to see these first projects underway and especially to see these two Scottish SME companies benefitting from this collaborative approach.”

The IBioIC – hosted at the University of Strathclyde – is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and supported by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The IBioIC is forecast to increase Industrial Biotechnology related turnover to up to £3 billion by 2030, create 1500 jobs within five years and put Scotland at the forefront of a global transformation.

It brings together academic and private sector partners to play a leading role in the potential £360 billion global industrial biotechnology market.

Industrial biotechnology is the use of biological substances, systems and processes to produce intermediate and final products such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, materials and energy – both cost-effectively and with minimal adverse environmental impact.

For further information on the Exemplar Project Competition, visit www.ibioic.com/exemplarprogramme.htm