Scotland has big ambitions for biotech. The country has just opened a national center for industrial biotechnology that it says will help create 1,500 jobs in the sector across Scotland within five years.
Located at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, the center is expected to play a key role in the country’s plan to achieve annual biotech sales of up to $5 billion by 2030. That compares with about $300 million today.
Drawing on expertise from 12 of Scotland’s universities and one research institute, the center will conduct research around pharmaceuticals, biobased chemicals, and bioenergy, and it will support the development of biotech firms. Scottish government agencies will provide $16 million in initial funding to pay for facilities, equipment, and staff. The agencies predict that the center will attract $70 million more within the next five years in industry and public backing.
Although the center’s initial funding is somewhat lightweight, its leadership is anything but. Chemical industry veteran Ian Shott is the chairman. He calls the center “a collaboration of businesses and higher education institutions with the ambition to be truly distinctive, world leading, and responsive to the market and technology needs of industry.”
Creating a center to catalyze biotech activity “is a tried-and-true method already implemented with great success elsewhere in Europe,” observes Milos Todorovic, an analyst at the market research firm Lux Research. However, the center is being formed at a time of uncertainty for Scotland as the country prepares to vote this year on whether to split from the U.K.