IBioIC is hiring! Join our team at FlexBio, our Bioprocessing Scale-Up Centre based at Heriot-Watt University. FlexBio offers companies and academics the opportunity to execute scale-up studies in partnership with the IBioIC Scale-Up Team, using state of the art fermentation and downstream processing equipment.

Position Title: Research Assistant FlexBio Downstream Processing Scientist

Location:  Edinburgh, GB

Closing date: 6 November 


Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

About our Team 
Working within and with the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering ( at Heriot Watt University (HWU), the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC ( aims to accelerate the commercialisation of the industrial biotechnology sector in Scotland, the UK and worldwide.  IBioIC’s Bioprocessing Scale-Up Centre (FlexBio) based at HWU, offers companies and academics the opportunity to execute scale-up studies in partnership with the IBioIC Scale-Up Team, using state of the art fermentation and downstream processing equipment.  A key offering of the facility is to provide clients with the option to sub-contract semi-pilot scale fermentation and downstream processing.  This includes microbial cultures up to a scale of 100L and various downstream processing techniques to separate cell and/or molecules within the fields of industrial biotechnology, bioeconomy and biomass processing.

Detailed Description 
IBioIC are seeking to appoint a 2-year downstream processing scientist to support fermentation and downstream bioprocessing operations working on projects on behalf of industry.  The successful candidate will join the IBioIC Scale-Up Team, working across FlexBio (Heriot-Watt university) and RapidBio (hosted by University of Strathclyde, Glasgow), to assist with the delivery of technical projects in partnership with, or on behalf of, industry partners.  They will be supervised by Senior Scientists at FlexBio and this will be their primary place of work.  Overall line management will be under the Biofacilities & Operations Manager.  The varied types of projects at FlexBio require the use of a wide range of techniques on a wide range of samples.  These can vary from traditional single molecule purification to larger-scale biomass processing to revalorise co-products from other industries.

Key duties and responsibilities 
The post holder will be required to execute these duties in accordance with the following behavioural competencies:

·       Work with the IBioIC Senior Scientists and Facilities & Operations Manager to design and execute downstream processing experimentation to deliver industry projects within the facilities to a very high standard of professionalism.

·       Work on downstream processing projects which demand a high attention to detail, flexibility, while inputting high levels of technical planning & practical competency.

·       Supervise the day-to-day work of junior staff (eg. laboratory trainees) in collaboration with the senior scientists and facilities & operations manager, ensuring the workload is prioritised accordingly based on project completion dates.

·       Take responsibility for core equipment ensuring it is well maintained, cleaned down and all users are appropriately trained.

·       Design & execute exemplar experiments to demonstrate competency and robust operation of equipment to potential customers.  Working with suppliers as required.

·       Undertake diligently the routine maintenance of essential laboratory equipment.

·       Consciously and carefully complete process COSHH risk assessments for upcoming projects, ensuring these records are maintained and other lab staff signed off before commencing work.

·       Complete documentation for recording experimental results to a high standard and in a timely manner.

·       Assist with the interpretation of data, while consulting with other members of the project team and with internal technical and academic teams.

·       Attend client meetings and advise on potential scale-up experimentation, with ability to confidently talk around the technical areas and challenges of microbiology and fermentation.

·       Note keeping and write up of work to an excellent standard into reports for dissemination to clients, and on a limited basis and where appropriate, write up work for additional dissemination (e.g. patents, professional publications or peer review journals).

·       Effectively manage own workload to conduct multiple projects at one time and at different stages.

·       Supervise students, who are working on projects within the IBioIC Scale-Up Centres, providing advice to students and contribute to delivery of courses and teaching as required.

·       Collaborate with colleagues on the development of knowledge exchange activities, with the IBioIC team and its industry members, such as interviews and speaking/demonstration during training courses.

·       Network effectively and be comfortable meeting new people whilst being able to interact in a professional manner.

·       Take an active role in promotion of the scale-up facilities, including creation of equipment and project case studies for external presentation (eg. website features, social media)

Personal Qualities & Behavioural Competencies

·       Desire to work in a small, hard-working, enthusiastic team of scientists

·       A practical problem-solving mindset and demonstrable abilities

·       Can do, positive attitude and ability to work independently

·       A keen eye for detail

·       Knowledge and interest in the bio/circular economy

·       Strong desire to benefit the environment through the development of biotechnologies

·       Some flexibility in working hours and some local travel requirements between sites (Glasgow) when projects require and agreed in advance.


Education, qualifications and experience 

Essential Criteria

·       BSc (or SCQF level 9 equivalent or higher) graded 2:1 or higher, in an appropriate biological sciences area (eg. Biology, Biotechnology or fermentation).

·       At least 2 years’ experience working within or with industry on downstream processing projects.

·       Experience of working with a range of downstream processing techniques

·       At least 2 years’ experience working within or with industry on scientific projects.

·       Experience of conducting fermentation in batch and fed-batch mode and programming feed tables.

·       Experience of fermentation harvest & cell clarification.

·       Experience of calibrating, maintaining and generating records related to sensors used in fermentation (eg. pH, dissolved oxygen)

·       Excellent communication skills.

·       Proven track record in training of laboratory staff in cell-based equipment and techniques


Desirable Criteria

·       MSc (or SCQF level 11 equivalent or higher) or equivalent of 2 years work experience in a similar sector

·       Experience of working with semi-pilot scale downstream processing (20L and higher)

·       Experience of disc-stack centrifugation or rig-style membrane/cartridge cell separation equipment

·       Experience of downstream processing on bioeconomy and/or circular economy projects (eg. revalorisation of co-products from industries such as food/drink and agriculture.

·       Experience of completing and maintaining process COSHH risk assessments for experimentation involving equipment, samples, reagents and chemicals.

·       Experience using TTF rigs (eg. Sartorius Sartoflow, PALL Centramate) commonly used for buffer exchange and ultrafiltration.

·       Experience of cell disruption techniques such as high-pressure homogenising equipment (eg. Avestin C3), ideally on culture harvest (100mL – litres).

·       Experience of working with preparatory chromatography systems (eg. AKTA Purifier, Avant, Pilot).

·       Experience of biomass processing techniques (eg. milling, mixing, liquid-liquid or liquid-solvent separation.

·       Experience of selling a service at a conference or similar.

·       Demonstrable ability to work quickly, flexibly and accurately in a dynamic, changing and pressured environment

·       Experience of working within GMP and/or a quality system.

·       Experience of laboratory administration including ordering supplies and equipment, maintaining databases & spreadsheets, costing and recharging of facilities.

·       Excellent customer service skills.

·       UK driving licence

How To Apply 

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 6 November 2020.

This role does not meet the minimum requirements set by UKVI to enable sponsorship of migrant workers. Therefore we cannot progress applications from candidates who require sponsorship to work in the UK. For further information on this please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website:

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

Due to the nature of the projects that are worked on and within a small team, unfortunately this position is not suitable for part-time and/or job-share working

Informal enquiries can be made to Neil Renault at (IBioIC Biofacilities & Operations Manager).