Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon speaks to representatives of the biotechnology industry at an exhibition this morning

Manufacturers urged to 'embrace' biotechnology

The UK’s manufacturing industry must “embrace” biotechnology a senior minister said today as he met with industry representatives.

Leading manufacturers and the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum are promoting the varied applications of biotechnology at an exhibition in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon attended this morning.

The industrial biotechnology market is projected to grow up to £360bn globally by 2025 with up to a £12bn share in the UK and the minister joined business leaders in calling on the UK’s manufacturing industry to embrace the benefits of biotechnology.

“The quality of our academic and research centres in the UK is allowing us to lead the way in industrial biotechnology and find innovative ways to replace traditional manufacturing products and processes with cheaper, greener and often more functional alternatives,” he said.

“To reach our full potential we now need to see the entire manufacturing industry embrace biotechnology, and start looking for every opportunity to integrate it into their production processes.

“This showcase demonstrates the diversity and creativity of innovative biotech businesses here in the UK that will help us build on the life sciences industrial strategy and compete in the global race.”

With calls for manufacturing to become greener, requirements for products with novel properties and the need to offset rising oil costs, industry representatives say biological processes can offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional manufacturing technologies.

And while sectors like pharmaceuticals and food production have long been harnessing the power of biotechnology, novel processes and innovative new materials mean that many other manufacturing industries could benefit from the biological approach.

“Industrial biotechnology is used throughout the whole value chain within the UK and within various different market sectors,” said Rebecca Wood from the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum, who developed the exhibition.

“So in the aerospace and automotive industry for example, they are looking to lightweight materials and things like composites, and what’s coming through now are bio composites and bio-based resins to fix those composites together.

“Those are really starting to see some advances, certainly at the research and development phase, and we are working with those companies now to see how they could scale up.

“We’re showing companies that switching from hydrocarbon to carbohydrate based raw materials and applying biotechnology to manufacturing is an excellent option, economically and environmentally,” she added.

“The Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum can provide advice to industry and highlight potential market opportunities.”

The exhibition runs from 5th until 16th August in the BIS reception area and is open to the public.

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