Marine biotechnology products, worth over USD 4 billion, have the potential to contribute significantly to human health, industrial production, and food and energy security. However, research in this area is still hampered by vast ocean distances, fragmented field stations, the need for multidisciplinary skills and expensive equipment. The EU-funded 'EMBRC preparatory phase' (EMBRC) project aimed to position Europe as a global leader in marine science through a diversified network of human and physical resources. Scientists will be able to move faster from discovery to technological application through increased access to information, expertise, national marine stations and laboratories. EMBRC's scope was defined as a pooling of tools for discovery, including access to European coastal ecosystems, specialised marine instrumentation, and satellite and sensor observation. It would also provide research services such as testing new marine genes, novel compounds, biobanks, metagenomics, big data analysis, microscopy and bioinformatics. These efforts yielded infrastructure, reports and strategies to establish the EMBRC as an independent entity, which will be in operation from 2015. A governing body was established, and training was provided to future EMBRC staff. Reports included a scientific strategy report, a business plan for sustainable operation and several high-level policy documents. Further, a Memorandum of Understanding was completed and has already been signed by 16 partner countries in readiness for the official launch of the EMBRC. The EMBRC project created a focal point for research and a powerful strategic and political platform for marine science at regional, national and European scales. As the EMBRC rapidly gains influence and leadership at the EU level, it will strengthen European research activities in this important sector.
Marine network, marine research, biotechnology, marine science, coastal ecosystems