Heriot-Watt University will be the site of one of two unique new centres which will form the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC).
IBiolC has raised a total of £2.7m to establish two bioprocessing centres that will contribute towards its aim to generate at least £1bn GVA for the Scottish economy by 2025.
The development of this facility will allow IBioIC and Heriot-Watt University to fill a critical gap in the development pathway for biological products, reducing the cost of and shortening the time for process development
The total funding package includes £1.8m from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), with an additional £0.9m being invested by both Heriot-Watt University and the University of Strathclyde, which will each host a centre, the Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre and the Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre. These have been proposed in response to identified industrial needs and shaped with IBioIC's knowledge of national and international capabilities.
The Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre
The Rapid Bioprocess Prototyping Centre will be based at the University of Strathclyde and will receive £670,000 from SFC, with Strathclyde contributing a further £350,000 to establish the centre. It will provide a facility where companies or Scottish HEIs can rigorously and quickly assess the potential of new cell lines, bio-products or novel approaches to bioprocessing, in terms of industrial potential. This has been identified as a significant gap in the future development of IB based processes in Scotland.
This centre will be operational by the end of this year.
The Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre
The industrially attractive new cell lines and bio-products can feed into the new Flexible Downstream Bioprocessing Centre, based at Heriot-Watt University, for turning into full scale manufacturing processes. This Centre will receive £1.13m from SFC, with the University contributing a further £555,000 to fully establish the centre. There is a widely acknowledged national gap in access to highly flexible, integrated facilities at this scale (15-100 litre) on a single site. The Centre will be operational within 12 months.
This centre will enable companies to produce quality materials, reproducibly and as cost- effectively as possible.
Dr Nik Willoughby, from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt, a member of IBioIC's scientific advisory board, said: "The development of this facility will allow IBioIC and Heriot-Watt University to fill a critical gap in the development pathway for biological products, reducing the cost of and shortening the time for process development. This will offer major advantages to the Scottish biotechnology sector"
Opportunities for the Scottish industrial biotechnology sector
Professor Brian McNeil of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, a member of IBioIC's governing board, said "This facility will open up many new significant opportunities for IBioIC and the Scottish industrial biotechnology sector as a whole. It will enable us to accelerate the research of new products and their progress to commercial development; just as importantly, it will help us to deliver economic benefits, new products and urgently-needed new treatments".
Laurence Howells, chief executive of SFC, said: "SFC is pleased to add £14 million to its investment in Innovation Centres for state-of-the-art equipment. The centres' work will have real impact - better healthcare and medicine for our families; more sustainable food through improved fish farming; more energy-efficient homes through developments in construction. "Through the Innovation Centres, research from our world-leading universities is helping industry develop new products and processes that will benefit our day-to-day living."
Roger Kilburn, CEO of IBioIC, said: "We are delighted to have this investment in these bioprocessing centres. They will be important to support the £30m research programme planned by IBioIC over the next five years.
"They will provide opportunities for Scotland to increase its competitiveness in developing novel and economically viable bioprocesses to manufacture a range of both commodity and specialty chemicals"