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Edinburgh hub gets funding to ‘anchor’ biotech firms in Scotland

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A biotech centre in Edinburgh has received an £847,000 investment from the Scottish government’s funding agency to build new fermentation equipment.

The funding, made through Scottish Enterprise, will support the installation of a 300-litre fermenter – a tank providing a controlled environment for large-scale microbial changes – at FlexBio.

Its current fermenter has a 30-litre capacity – meaning the new bioreactor will offer up to 10 times that volume.

The fermenter will be open access for biotech businesses in the region to reduce upfront capital expenditure costs for individual companies.

FlexBio is an innovation centre based at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh that was launched in 2016. It is part of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), an organisation set up to grow Scotland’s biotechnology sector.

The investment was announced by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade, Richard Lochhead.

“Now home to more than 200 companies with a turnover of nearly £800m a year, Scotland has a growing reputation in industrial biotechnology,” said Lochhead.

He added: “This investment will help more businesses overcome the scale-up challenge of turning lab-based science into industry-ready products, and I look forward to it helping encourage further innovations and advancements in the coming years.”

FlexBio specialises in microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria, algae and plant cells. The scaleup facility has supported over 60 projects.

Mark Bustard, CEO of IBioIC, said: “Combined with our years of experience at FlexBio supporting a range of early-stage ideas, the 300-litre fermenter will enable us to offer greater assistance to aspiring biotech companies, anchoring them in Scotland.”

Jane Martin, managing director of innovation and investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This development will be hugely beneficial for those with that level of ambition within Scotland’s growing industrial biotech sector.”

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