Life Sciences

Natural and Marine products 

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.

Combining our natural assets with our academic strengths at the UHI Scottish Association for Marine Science and our industry expertise provides the foundation for a globally competitive region.

The Highlands and Islands region has key strength in seaweed cultivation and is home to world lead academic expertise in Marine Biotechnology, Europe’s largest Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa, a thriving aquaculture industry and is already home to a cluster of marine biotech enterprises.

From these natural resources, companies such as Glycomar, BASF Pharma (Callanish) and Hebridean Seaweed, 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. Academic activity has grown to support the commercial base in providing research and analytical capabilities and a number of unique, natural product based collections and libraries exist.

View our Marine Biotechnology in the Highlands and Islands brochure.

In our region:

  • The University of the Highlands and Islands continues its focus in natural products and has developed interests by pooling the expertise from several research groups, including the Agronomy Institute in Orkney. UHI sits at the centre of a Scotland-wide network of academics offering expertise to organisations with interest in natural products.
  • The European Marine Science Park in Argyll is one of HIE's current major infrastructure investments incorporating marine science, research and development, education and commercial activity. The project aims to create an international centre of excellence.
  • Co-located on the Dunstaffnage peninsula is The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), a centre for research, education and world-class environmental surveying, sampling, monitoring and analysis. SAMS has unique expertise in seaweed cultivation and has developed two experimental seaweed farms to support its research.
  • SAMS also hosts the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), the most diverse in the world, with over 3000 strains of marine and freshwater algae, protists and seaweeds from across the globe.
  • Wild seaweed harvesting can potentially present a unique opportunity for fishermen to diversity. 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.
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