University spinout honoured at Life Sciences Awards

Celtic Renewables win entrepreneurial business leadership award

Date posted

8 February 2016


The executive team at Celtic Renewables have been honoured for developing the Edinburgh Napier biofuel spinout into an acclaimed business.

Founder Professor Martin Tangney and chief executive Mark Simmers picked up the Life Science Entrepreneurial Business Leadership Award in a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland.

The 16th annual life sciences awards saw leaders and influencers from across the sector in Scotland gather for a gala dinner in Edinburgh on Thursday night.

Comedian Fred MacAulay hosted the event, which attracted more than 800 guests to see the latest successes celebrated and rewarded.

Professor Tangney, Director of the Biofuel Research Centre, and CEO Simmers were among those honoured for their achievements in areas like innovation, investment, collaboration and community engagement.

Celtic Renewables celebrated an exceptional year in 2015 which saw them produce the world’s first samples of an advanced biofuel – biobutanol – from the production residues of the Scottish malt whisky industry. 

Their breakthrough and continued growth saw the company named as the most innovative biotech startup in Europe at the EU Parliament in Brussels, and the emerging business of the year at the Scottish Business awards.

The award winning entrepreneurs also secured a grant of £11 million from the Department for Transport at Westminster which they will use to co-finance a commercial scale demonstration facility at Grangemouth.

The award was presented to Professor Tangney and Simmers by Dr Lena Wilson, CEO of Scottish Enterprise

Professor Tangney said “I am particularly honoured to receive an award from Scottish Enterprise, as this whole endeavor started out with proof of concept funding from Scottish Enterprise and they have helped me all along the way, from a research project at Edinburgh Napier University to setting up Celtic Renewables and now planning our first commercial demonstration facility.”

Scotland's life sciences industry already contributes more than £3 billion a year to the Scottish economy with over 650 organisations employing now in excess of 35,000 people. 

Celtic Renewables is widely regarded as one of the country’s most innovative biotechnology companies, producing environmentally and commercially sustainable “drop-in” advanced biofuel (biobutanol) from the 2billion litres of liquid effluent and 750,000 tonnes of barley residue produced annually by the £4billion malt whisky industry.

Mark Simmers said “This recognition is a wonderful accolade. Working with Martin to take his idea from research to market has been a tremendous experience and we are very proud of what we have achieved”.

The photograph shows L-R Fred MacAulay, Dr Lena Wilson CEO Scottish Enterprise, Prof Martin Tangney, President Celtic Renewables, Mark Simmers CEO Celtic Renewables.