In this IBioIC funded project, ScotBio and Edinburgh University explored an improved process for the production of ScotBio Blue. The success of this project has enabled ScotBio to create a superior product, which was used in a limited edition launch of Firkin Blue gin.

Improving the purity of natural blue pigmentation

ScotBio specialise in the production of a high quality, natural, blue pigment called ScotBio Blue, which is produced from spirulina. The pigment is widely used in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Algae as a source of pigments

Blue-green algae are a great source of biologically active molecules with uses in industries as diverse as food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Their enormous potential has been gaining attention as they become an exciting new trend in industrial biotechnology.
C-phycocyanin is a blue pigment, which naturally occurs in spirulina and is commercially attractive thanks to its colour and antioxidant properties.

An improved process for pigment purification

In this collaboration, the team explored different downstream processing approaches and selected the most commercially suitable model that allowed the generation of high purity product. The improved process has allowed ScotBio to plan scale-up operations. 

The team also tested a CyanoGate toolkit to engineer the genetic code of the algae and a novel 3D printed separation system to purify the pigment.

A strong collaboration

Following the success of this project, the team secured further funding to improve the purification using the 3D printed columns. The proof that they can produce an ultra-pure product has opened up new markets for the company, who are keen to expand into the healthcare sector. ScotBio’s innovative approach has allowed them to secure significant funding to build a scaled-up plant in Scotland. As the demand for natural colourants increases, the future of companies like ScotBio looks anything but blue.

“This project was highly successful for us as a businessPolly Van Alstyne, Chief Operating Officer, ScotBio