Biotechnology network’s investment in next generation hits £25 million

06/02/2023

THE TOTAL investment by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) and its members and partners in green skills has reached £25 million, supporting Scotland’s transition to net zero as well as biotech research initiatives.

£25 million is based on the combined investment in the innovation centre’s skills programmes including industry contributions completed since IBioIC’s inception in 2014.

Since its founding, more than 450 students have worked alongside over 80 biotechnology companies that have employed students’ skills to support pioneering research initiatives across a range of sectors.

Businesses that have sponsored student placements and projects include FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, a world leading contract development and manufacturing organization for biologics, vaccines, and advanced therapies; Ingenza, a Scottish biotechnology company with products ranging from consumer goods to sustainable fuels; and IndiNature, a sustainable construction materials manufacturer.

The skills programme, which is supported by The Scottish Funding Council, includes HND, Masters and PhD programmes with training focused on giving students commercial and industrial experience alongside academic research. In addition to learning directly from experts in the field in colleges, universities, and industry, IBioIC also provides training in areas such as communicating science and calculating manufacturing costs and carbon emissions.

IBioIC is the lead driver of Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology, which outlines a target of more than 4,000 direct employees in the sector by 2025. The plan also highlights that current and projected demand for qualified people in the sector significantly exceeds supply.

Ian Archer, technical director at IBioIC, said: “Skills are a crucial element of Scotland’s transition to net zero emissions in manufacturing. As manufacturing evolves to embrace more bio-based processes, we will need more people with technical skills to help grow that to scale. But importantly, those technical skills need to be combined with commercial and practical application. Already, we are hearing of early-stage companies struggling to take the next steps because of a limited talent pool.”

“Our skills programmes are designed to help bridge some of the gaps between academic study and the jobs market, with hands-on industry experience a core element of each course. It is encouraging to see so many companies in our network supporting the development of the workforce, while at the same time utilising students’ skills to help develop ideas.”

Since 2019, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Centre of Excellence in Bioprocessing located in Teesside, UK has employed more than 20 IBioIC students to work with its research teams to support the development and manufacture of novel biopharmaceuticals. The partnership was first established to offer industry training and develop research initiatives in bioprocessing.

Ian Archer added: “Our work with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is a great example of the type of collaboration that IBioIC strives to achieve. We are not only helping to nurture the next generation of talented scientists, but also contributing to the business’ need for research. Feedback tells us that it is beneficial for the company’s employees, who are able to broaden their professional networks, to act as mentors to the students and provide coaching.” 

Andy Topping, chief scientific officer at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, added: “The skills training that IBioIC has provided to the PhD students placed at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies in our Centre of Excellence in BioProcessing has perfectly complemented the experiences that they receive from academic research and on-the-job training. It is hugely valued both by the students and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, which is reflected in the close collaboration both entities enjoy.”

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