SCOTLAND’s biotechnology sector is in line for a boost with the launch of a funding initiative aimed at helping companies access specialist facilities, equipment and resources with grants of up to £10,000.

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) Facilities Access Fund – thought to be the first of its type in the sector – will support critical research and development projects, and has been designed to ease access to facilities based at Scottish universities and IBioIC’s two scale-up centres, which are critical to the development of new bio-based processes and materials.

Projects will have to be led by an industrial partner and can cover a range of applications such as biorefining, food and drink, biomanufacturing, waste management, textiles and agritech.

The grants will enable firms to secure timely access to the facilities and expertise vital to accelerating innovations.

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Companies will have to contact the innovation centre to discuss their application, before having it assessed on its economic contribution, technical viability, and additional benefits for Scotland, including job creation or environmental impact.

“By enabling companies to access the unique and world-class facilities, equipment and expertise across Scotland’s universities that are critical to research and development, we can help to expand Scotland’s bioeconomy as we head towards 2045 net-zero targets,” said Liz Fletcher, director of business engagement at IBioIC.

“Developing bio-based alternatives represents an important step in our move away from petrochemicals and carbon intensive feedstocks and will make manufacturing much more sustainable across a range of sectors.

“This fund is designed to support companies looking to unlock these opportunities by leveraging local assets.”

Fletcher added: “We know that our members – particularly SMEs – have been calling for support of this kind which can often be one of the costliest elements of an innovation project.

“We look forward to seeing the positive outcomes from future projects supported through the new fund.”