The Bioeconomy and its impact on the Chemicals Industry

Published: 11 March 2016

We recently hosted our annual Chemicals Industry Dinner, with Steve Bagshaw, CEO of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies as guest speaker. As the CEO of one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical manufacturing organisations, Steve shared his views on the UK Bioeconomy and the opportunities and challenges that the industry faces over the coming years. With many leaders from the North East’s Chemicals and Process Industries attending, it proved to be a very interesting and enjoyable evening. Key points that were highlighted include:

• The UK Bioeconomy is defined as ‘all economic activity derived from bio-based products and processes which contribute to sustainable and resource-efficient solutions to the challenges we face in food, chemicals, materials, energy production, health and environmental protection’
• The UK Bioeconomy supports 4 million jobs across the UK, and is worth £153bn GVA value to UK Plc. In Europe, the Bioeconomy has an annual turnover of €2tn, with the Chemicals and Plastics sectors accounting for 3% of this (Food is 47%; Agriculture 19%, Paper / Pulp 18% and Forestry / Wood 13%).
• The global Bioeconomy is growing at a tremendous rate (circa 10% year-on-year), and the UK has a great opportunity to play its part in the future success of this broad industry. We are already leaders in niche areas such as synthetic biology, and have a number of fast-growing companies developing world-leading technologies – ranging in size from start-ups to large international blue-chip groups.
• As the world population continues to grow at its current rate - estimated to be more than 9 billion people by 2050 -  the world faces significant challenges that the Bioeconomy will help to address; increasing crop yields, creating new vaccines for diseases, developing innovative processes that use less energy and produce less waste for our environment.

As the industry grows it will need to attract the next generation of scientists and engineers, which is a challenge we can all play our part in – whether we are employers in the Bioeconomy field, parents, teachers, or in Government.

Jonathan Burke is a specialist in leadership roles within the UK’s Manufacturing & Engineering sectors, and is a Principal Consultant in the Manufacturing Practice at Berwick Partners.

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