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The Highlands and Islands has a unique offering in marine and natural products, particulary in macro and micro algae. These natural assets, largely situated around our islands and the west coast, offer employment and diversification opportunities for rual businesses and the ideal foundations for a thriving marine biotechnology sector.
The European Marine Science Park in Oban, Argyll hosts research, education and business organisations with a focus on marine science and aquaculture. Regular networking events connect the commercial tenants at the incubator facilities, resident businesses and academics to stimulate collaboration.
The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) works with industry and academia in the Highlands and Islands. Roger Kilburn, CEO of IBioIC, explains that "The Highlands and Islands are home to large quantities of natural feedstock with untapped potential such as wood and seaweed. Wood can be turned into fermentable sugar from which biochemical, biomaterials and biofuel can be produced, replacing oil-based products and a reliance on fossil fuels. Equally, marine biopolymers can be extracted from seaweed for multiple applications including the personal and healthcare markets.”
The Scottish Seaweed Industry Association is a membership organisation that is the voice of the seaweed industry in Scotland. It hosts an annual conference in Oban in November.
The Highlands and Islands region has a thriving aquaculture industry and is already home to a cluster of marine biotech enterprises that provide refined extracts, active compounds and expertise in product development and analytical capability. The main markets for companies that utilise natural products are pharmaceuticals, nutriceuticals, cosmetics and renewable energy.
A range of companies are active in the Highlands and Islands - listed below is a small selection:
Wild seaweed harvesting can potentially present a unique opportunity for fishermen to diversify. Read our report for full details of the opportunity along with a kelp atlas showing the locations and type of seaweed located around our coastline.