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Marine Genomics for Users

Final Report Summary - MG4U (Marine Genomics for Users)

Executive Summary:
The coordination action MG4U (Marine Genomics for Users) project was funded from the FP7 program KBBE (Knowledge Based Bio-Economy) Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnologies, responding to the specific call “Learning from research projects: specific dissemination to potential users in marine genomics”.
Seven partners, from the public and private sectors and representing the marine genomics community across Europe, went into partnership to facilitate Knowledge Transfer and technology translation focusing on high-throughput marine genomics knowledge to science, industry, policy and society.
The MG4U consortium used innovative approaches to identify and collect Knowledge Outputs from marine genomics research projects carried out over the last decade in Europe. Where high potential outputs were identified, MG4U developed several Knowledge Transfer methodologies adapted to the various end-users (i.e. scientific community, industry or governance (also called policy makers)) deemed to be of interest with the potential applications linked to these outputs.
The objective of the Knowledge Transfer phase was to promote the high potential of marine genomics to address societal needs in several fields.

Major successes of the MG4U project include:
¤ Identification of relevant recent and on-going research projects related to marine genomics at different levels (European (FP6 and FP7) & national)
¤ Design of a typical marine genomics project lifecycle, in order to identify the different types of outputs which could be of interest
¤ Conceptualization of a methodology and a new tool dedicated to the collection of knowledge from research in marine genomics
¤ Identification and classification of the most promising outputs: around 400 outputs with potential applications in one or more sectors of interest (i.e. science, industry and policy) from 70 European or nationally funded projects which are available
¤ Development of a database of knowledge on a web portal
¤ Design, organisation (or support to) and delivery of training sessions and workshops in the Science sector
¤ Training workshop with aquaculture industry
¤ Conduct of stakeholder workshops to gather scientists and governance
¤ Development of a peer-reviewed article on the use of genomics in biodiversity monitoring
¤ Identification of marine genomics areas and services of interest to fields and sectors of industry
¤ Active participation in several industry-focused events, to increase MG4U’s visibility, disseminate marine genomics information and to facilitate contacts between academic researchers and industry
¤ Implementation of dedicated sessions at large business conventions with industrial foci to discuss uptake mechanisms of marine genomics knowledge along the value chain
¤ Creation of a database of qualified industry contacts and multipliers, also for use beyond the project duration
¤ Development of indicators to evaluate the efficiency of the Knowledge Transfer activities to scientific community, industry and governance
¤ Interaction and share of experience with other projects/initiatives, focusing on Knowledge Transfer

MG4U developed strong links with other initiatives whose activities will continue beyond the lifetime of MG4U like EMBRC and Micro B3. With some of them, discussions had taken place in order to include Knowledge Transfer activities as one of their goals. So it is anticipated that MG4U methodology and databases established may be used in the future to continue the efforts aiming to promote marine genomics for applications in different sectors.

Project Context and Objectives:
A. Context

The European Commission has invested a lot in marine research across the 6th and 7th Framework Programs. Among thousands of marine projects, nearly ten per cent were specifically dedicated to or used marine genomics. During the same period many national projects were also funded. It is estimated that at least 200 projects related to marine genomics were implemented in European countries during this period, corresponding to more than 30 million Euros supported by national programmes across Europe.

1. Knowledge Transfer activities

All research projects, whichever the fields of interest they have, can generate a large amount of outputs. These outputs can consist of new protocols, new software, new data, etc. They all provide new knowledge which could be exploited at different levels to develop new applications. Knowledge transfer to end-users, however, is clearly needed as the first link between knowledge and innovation.
Researchers disseminate their work usually by publishing of articles or giving talks in conferences. Knowledge Transfer is different: it aims to capture, organise, customise and distribute knowledge to a targeted audience. It also ensures its availability in the long term. Knowledge Transfer helps to turn outputs, often hidden, into new products and services.
European laboratories develop world-class research but initiatives to manage and transfer the knowledge and to turn it into socio-economic benefits are still lacking. The European 2020 Flagship Initiative – Innovation Union highlights that the EU and its Member States clearly need to be better organised to increase innovation. This document also highlights the importance of improving Knowledge Transfer between research and third parties such as industry and public administration. According to that document “We need to get more innovation out of our research. Cooperation between the worlds of science and the world of business must be enhanced, obstacles removed and incentives put in place” .

2. Marine genomics research

Marine waters provide resources and services estimated at 60% of the total economic value of the biosphere. The application of cutting-edge genomic approaches has generated significant new knowledge on the marine environments and its bio-resources. Rapid progress will continue, given the fast rate of technological development in this field. Methods and information are sufficiently mature for direct application to achieve a more competitive European economy, and the development of knowledge economies in the marine sector. Applications include improving the efficiency of characterisation and mining of marine diversity for biotechnology products and processes that will contribute to the welfare of mankind in a sustainable and environmentally compatible manner. Marine genomics knowledge also has enormous potential to assist organisations involved in governance and sustainable management of the marine environment and its resources. However, the direct utility of marine genomics in developing commercial advantage, and in general problem solving, is not understood by many decision makers in government and industry. In general, a large amount of valuable marine genomics knowledge is inaccessible to users or exists in non-user-friendly contexts. Marine Genomics for Users (MG4U) responds to the specific call “Learning from research projects: specific dissemination to potential users in marine genomics”, which was designed to address this critical bottleneck. The call was generated since it is crucial that putative end-users are aware of both the potential of genomics approaches and the state-of-the-art developments that have taken place in recent EU and other research programmes for genomics to be exploited effectively by end-users. MG4U brought together a project consortium containing both scientific excellence and knowledge management specialists to design an innovative and realisable project that can have a measurable impact on the current situation and become a best practice example of effective Knowledge Transfer.

B. MG4U Objectives

The MG4U project focused on marine genomic research projects across Europe (European and national funded projects) to identify, collect and understand the knowledge generated by these projects. This knowledge was analysed and then transferred to appropriate arenas, i.e. scientific community, industry and governance.
MG4U developed a methodology to identify and gather relevant knowledge with high potential to go a step further than the publication, aiming to promote the high potential of marine genomics for new applications in the different fields of interest.

The overarching objective of MG4U was to maximise the exploitation of results from recent and on-going projects in marine genomics and to allow fast and efficient Knowledge Transfer.
Overall objectives were:
¤ To link direct use of Knowledge Transfer as well as dissemination and training as tools to connect the Knowledge Outputs from a range of projects in marine genomics, including those from previous EU and other research programmes, to potential users and future practitioners.
¤ To increase the availability of specialists in marine genomics to contribute to improved interdisciplinary research in Europe.
¤ To contribute to realising the potential offered by marine genomics for understanding the marine environment and for the wise utilisation of marine resources.

Specific objectives
The aim of knowledge management, as a science, and in the context of this project, was to capture, organise and make widely available all the knowledge generated by marine genomics projects. Therefore the key specific project objectives were:
¤ To obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the knowledge generated from marine genomics projects by reviewing research outcomes, with a view to identifying what knowledge was relevant for exploitation and available for transfer;
¤ To identify and map knowledge requirements by clustering knowledge for different target end-user groups in consultation with stakeholders and by mapping marine genomics competences and occupations;
¤ To unlock the potential of knowledge by customising relevant knowledge and transferring it based on the most appropriate media and delivery methods considering the profiles of different end-user groups, thereby increasing the likelihood of uptake and exploitation;
¤ To measure the effectiveness of the transfer of knowledge by building in measurement systems for indicators of impact.

In order to achieve these overall objectives, MG4U was organised into 6 work packages described below.

1. Work Package 1 – Project management and internal communication

WP1 comprised tasks related to management of the MG4U project, notably coordinating contractual commitments and ensuring efficient internal flow of information between all stakeholders, particularly between the project coordinator, WP leaders and participants in each WP. An Advisory Board (AB) was set up to give observations and advice to the consortium. WP1 monitored progress of the project relative to the stated objectives and deliverables. The management team designed and implemented a risk management plan in order to efficiently react to unforeseen issues. The management team also coordinated the partners’ efforts in the reporting process at each step of the project.

Specific objectives of the WP1 were to:
¤ Manage contractual aspects related to project implementation;
¤ Maintain communication and information flow between all project participants;
¤ Define and implement a risk management policy;
¤ Organise General Assembly meetings;
¤ Monitor progress relative to the work plan and reporting to the EC

2. Work Package 2 – Knowledge analysis and clustering by specific end-users

WP2 was the core of the first MG4U period. This WP was designed to create a repository of knowledge mapping out the state-of-the-art in marine genomics research, to identify key stakeholders, multipliers and ultimate end-users and their interests related to marine genomics, to map the subject area by knowledge, skills and competence allowing gaps to be identified, and finally to combine the outcomes of these three tasks in order to select the relevant knowledge that needs to be transmitted to different target audiences. Overall, WP2 aimed to ensure that relevant, targeted knowledge was transferred to specific clusters of end-users, and that the end-users are capable of using the knowledge.
Collect and understand the current knowledge coming from recent and on-going research projects on marine genomics, but also analyse this knowledge, were critical steps to ensure that the delivery of knowledge to targeted end-users will be relevant. The MG4U consortium mainly focused on these tasks during the first half of the project.

Specific objectives of WP2 were to:
¤ Collect and manage available MG knowledge;
¤ Identify end-users of MG knowledge and potential strategic multipliers who can help transfer knowledge;
¤ Analyse and cluster knowledge by end-user groups;
¤ Evaluate and select knowledge to be transferred.

3. Work Package 3 – Knowledge Transfer to the scientific sector in research, government and industry

WP3 was designed to define how best to provide required training to the scientific community in general, especially to scientists working in industry and government. WP3 oversaw provision of the MG4U training programme. In a second phase, this WP was in charge of survey and analysis of the effectiveness of the approaches adopted.

Specific objectives of WP3 were to:
¤ Define how best to provide required training to scientists in industry and government;
¤ Provide training;
¤ Survey and analyse the effectiveness of the approaches adopted.

4. Work Package 4 – Dissemination and promotion of marine genomics knowledge to industry

WP4 focussed on defining efficient methods to establish contacts between marine genomics scientists and interested high-level industry representatives like heads of R&D, to foster development of marine genomics applications. Also WP 4 partners used industrial workshops, conferences and other business events to disseminate and promote targeted marine genomics knowledge to diverse biotechnology sectors from several countries.
WP4 also enabled planning of future industry-academia collaborations through enhancing academia-industry contacts during the Knowledge Transfer approaches used.
In the final phase, WP4 evaluated the efficiency and impact of approaches adopted during the whole project.

Specific objectives of WP4 were to:
¤ Define efficient methods to establish contacts and design products for transfer of marine genomics information to targeted audiences;
¤ Identify and target industry sector representatives to foster development of marine genomics applications;
¤ Use industrial workshops, conferences and other events for direct transfer of marine genomics knowledge to relevant industry sectors;
¤ Measure uptake of knowledge and inputs to enhance planning of future industry-academia collaborations.

5. Work Package 5 – Dissemination and promotion of marine genomics knowledge to governance

WP5 aimed to prepare and deliver marine genomics information to different target organisations involved in governance and sustainable management of the marine environment and its resources. As for WP3 and WP4, WP5 involved a measurement of the knowledge uptake and impact of Knowledge Transfer to governance end-users.

Specific objectives of WP5 were to:
¤ Select methods and design products for transfer of marine genomics information to target organisations involved in governance and sustainable management of the marine environment and its resources;
¤ Transfer knowledge for governance;
¤ Measure uptake of knowledge and impact.

6. Work Package 6 – Project promotion, linkages and synergies

WP6 consisted of diverse actions related to the promotion of MG4U activities to stakeholders and the wider public, the raising of the awareness of Marine Genomics in general, as well as the support of other work packages in their activities. These activities included the design and production of dissemination material, including flyers, fact sheets, posters, a web portal, a knowledge database and support tools for the other WPs of the MG4U project.
WP6 was also tasked with the development and maintenance of synergies and linkages with other related initiatives. This was important as MG4U, as a specific coordination call, was not isolated but was linked to several other EC calls, all designed to bring together experts in related marine spheres, to work together on the major challenge of connecting Marine Genomics to its potential applications.

Specific objectives of WP6 were to:
¤ Disseminate and promote the project (i.e. its objectives, methodological approaches, activities, partners, major events, products and outputs) through external communication activities;
¤ Interact with other related initiatives and projects to share methodology and results in order to prevent overlap/replication.

Project Results:
The main results are listed below, ordered per Work Package.

A. Work Package 1 – Project management and internal communication

All deliverables in WP1 were successfully developed and submitted. The MG4U consortium was formed by 7 partners, involving 20 people for the duration of the project. Most of the partners knew each other before the project was built as they had been involved in the NoE Marine Genomics Europe. This made the implementation of the project easier.
Throughout the 30 months project duration three formal meetings and two workshops were organised to reunite the whole consortium. Moreover, partners regularly met informally at several events which they organised or attended together.

B. Work Package 2 – Knowledge analysis and clustering by specific end-users

All deliverables in WP2 were successfully developed and submitted. WP2 was the core of the project. It mostly dealt with the identification, collection and analysis of Marine Genomics research projects (Task 2.1 & 2.4) at European and Member State level. The purpose of the exercise was to obtain an understanding of the universe of marine genomics research projects as well as their Knowledge Outputs. The collection of Knowledge Outputs was an essential and major task in that it helped the partnership to identify potential end-users and the potential impact of any knowledge application.

1. Identification and management of marine genomics knowledge

This was the first task carried out by the consortium. The methodology was developed and refined according to the different barriers the consortium met. It is summarised below and developed in detail in the public deliverable D2.1 (State-of-the-art of Marine Genomics knowledge)

At the start of the project, the entire consortium agreed to develop a tool referred to as Knowledge Output Tables (KOT) to list the knowledge coming from recent and on-going projects. This tool organised knowledge according to the potential interests of the targeted publics (i.e. Scientific Community, Industry or Governance).

Projects potentially relevant to the identified Marine Genomics publics were first searched from the NoE Marine Genomics Europe as well as FP6 and FP7 projects identified using the Cordis and EurOcean databases.
Partners agreed that national projects should be also considered. Each partner used its network to identify the relevant projects in their own country (and in some neighbouring countries not represented in the consortium).

For each project identified, Knowledge Outputs (KO) were added to the KOT. For the purpose of MG4U, the two main definitions related to the contents of a KOT were:

Knowledge: Intellectual property rights and related know-how, information, data and other intellectual assets. Technical information including, discoveries, concepts, methodologies, models, research, development and testing procedures, the results of experiments, tests and trials, manufacturing processes, materials, formulae, formulations, processes, research or experimental results, techniques and specifications, quality control data, analyses. Knowledge is not limited to scientists and is not limited to technology information.

Knowledge output: This is the term used to describe each unit of new knowledge that has been generated out of a scientific project. The term "knowledge" implies that the output is something new that was not known before. It is not limited to de-novo or pioneering discoveries but may also include new methodologies/processes, adaptations, insights, alternative applications of prior know-how/knowledge.

Methodology to gain useful and relevant information

Searching for the needed information using only the web had severe limitations. Many project websites shut down when projects were completed, or they do not contain detailed enough information, results or final project reports. Therefore it was decided that the consortium needed to contact the projects Project investigators (PIs) to obtain information or to provide clarifications.

The persons involved in collecting KO (collectors) noticed that e-mailing the PIs was not enough; the response was poor and when the PIs did answer, the information given was often not complete. Therefore, partners who were involved in this task contacted the PIs by phone or organised face to face meetings, and completed the KOT with them. In short, e-mail was only a first approach, talking (phone or meeting) was necessary for having the PIs answering questionnaires properly.

The consortium developed a procedure to optimize the collection of the knowledge and homogenize the methodology followed by all collectors.

The methodology consisted of 3 steps:

1- Contact the PIs
• Introduction to MG4U to the PIs: present MG4U, its objectives and its challenges.
• The survey: explanation of the process to the interviewee.
• Set up of an appointment to do the interview.
The entire procedure was sent to every collector and is also available on the intranet portal.

2- Peer to peer, face to face or telephone interview: The KOT collector interviews the PIs and together they identify all the outputs coming from the project of interest.

3- Validation: The PIs validate the accuracy of the KOT for each project which is sent to them by the collectors before the KOT is further processed by MG4U.

Knowledge Output Table: description of the tool.

The data introduced in the table is based on the lifecycle of a marine genomics project. It was broken down into 3 parts.
Phase 1: New knowledge from the experiment lifecycle – Identification of pioneering techniques and methodologies
Phase 2: New knowledge - Direct knowledge outputs of the experiments
Phase 3: Knowledge of Expression/ Application
Please see attached document "Lifecycle of a marine genomics research".

Where a KO was identified, this led to the listing of useful information for filling in the KOT efficiently. As the final step, (a) potential application(s) for the three categories “Scientific Community, and/or Industry and/or Governance” was (were) described.

The final version of a KOT contains two parts.

Part 1: General information:
- Title and acronym of the project
- Information about the funding body and the funding amount
- Information about the coordinators (or the day-to-day contact) and the partners involved in the project
- Summary of the project

Part 2: Knowledge Outputs are listed and detailed in this part. Details stated are described in the methodology below

Methodology to complete Part 2 of a KOT:

Output short title: each output should have an explicit short title to describe it.

Output description: a short description accompanies the title to explain what has been done.

Output type: there are two columns for this. The collector has to fill in the first one (type1) if the output is related to a pioneering technique or methodology (phase 1 in the lifecycle) or the second one (type 2) if it is related to a new knowledge coming from the experimental phase. A single output can be concerned by both types. If so, the other fields must highlight the two types.
The collector has to choose the type in the following lists (please see attached document "Different types of Knowledge Outputs".

Sectors/Disciplines to potentially benefit: this field shows which sectors/disciplines are expected to benefit from the output (Aquaculture, Fisheries, Biotech, Environment, …)

Potential end-users & potential application(s): these fields have been split in three different columns. Indeed, to be clearer, it is first asked if the scientific community a potential end-user? If so, the collector has to show what could be the potential application(s) for this specific user category. The same thing has to be done for the industry and then for the policy.

Detail of intellectual property/Confidentiality issues: if there are intellectual property/confidentiality issues, they are described.

Knowledge Transfer activities: this field indicates whether the output has been already promoted in different ways, other than publications, e.g. training course, workshop, conference and/or article for the general public.

In public domain: this field indicates the source where a user can find information related to the output (publication, website, etc…).

Output complete and completion details: this field allows knowing whether the work is completed and if not, when it should be.

Project Investigator: in the final version, which will be the basis of a public web portal, the consortium agreed that each output will be linked to the project PI.

Note: Each output has to be independent as each one must be able to stand alone as a KO description in the final knowledge base

The work performed in this task enabled the MG4U consortium to collect around 400 outputs from 70 European funded and nationally funded projects. This collection is not exhaustive as marine genomics is rapidly developing across Europe and elsewhere. This amount of knowledge collected was used as proof-of-concept for the methodology developed and for the MG4U transfer activities.

2. Identification of potential users and strategic multipliers

In this task a tool was developed for Knowledge Transfer activities (i.e. WP3, 4 & 5), to facilitate identification of the different multipliers related to marine genomics knowledge and having interest in the fields listed in the KOTs. The identification of relevant multipliers is important as they are a bridge to identify targeted end-users. From the analysis of the KOTs, knowledge was linked to sectors which could benefit from the listed outputs.

Given the diversity of application sectors three major categories were identified, as follows:
• Environment/Good environmental status – Bioremediation – Ecosystem functioning/Climate change – Conservation biology
• Resources management – Aquaculture – Fisheries
• Biotechnology – Biomedicine – Cosmetics – Nutrition – Agronomy

Each MG4U partners identified appropriate multipliers in different countries in Europe. Each multiplier was linked to one or more categories described above with the indication of whether they were close to the scientific community, the industry or to policy makers. This information was added to the KOT.
Work Packages 3, 4 and 5 were then able to identify the multipliers related to each output listed in the KOT.

3. Mapping of marine genomics knowledge, skills and competence

In order to create an in-depth and valid description of the sector, different expert opinions were sought. These included members of the MG4U consortium as well as external partner connections. The marine genomic sector was divided into five subsectors for the purpose of this exercise, namely: Aquaculture, Fisheries, Environmental monitoring, Biodiversity mapping, and Human health and food safety.

The Occupational & Functional Map includes the following:
• Description of the subsector
• Identification of the current job roles
• Occupational functions of the subsector
• Analysis of current and potential future applications per subsector.

An external educational expert was also recruited to help review and validate the draft document before finalisation.

4. Evaluation and selection of knowledge to be transferred

The work generated in this task combined the outcomes of the three preceding tasks. Either during the KOTs’ development, or during their final assessment, some outputs were identified as more promising for Knowledge Transfer. The outcome of this task listed the most relevant outputs to be used for Knowledge Transfer to specific sectors: Scientific Community (WP3), Industry (WP4) and Policy makers (WP5).

During a two-days meeting, 400 outputs were analysed (see above) and relevant outputs were listed in three groups, designed for the WP3, 4 and 5 and then split in subgroups regarding the sector(s) which could benefit from it.

All outputs were transferred to a web portal, which includes an innovative searchable interactive database. It allows users to drill down into the content and find exactly what is relevant to them as a user. This database is reachable from the MG4U public website (

The web portal and database is a useful tool to disseminate knowledge but it is a passive way to valorise scientific results. It is more dissemination than Knowledge Transfer. To carry out Knowledge Transfer, WP3, 4 and 5 had to go a step further, defining their strategy connect with targeted end-users and developing specific materials targeted towards them.

C. Work Package 3 – Knowledge Transfer to the scientific sector in research, government and industry

All deliverables in WP3 were successfully developed and submitted.

As soon as MG4U started, partners defined how best to provide the required training to the scientific community in general, and with special focus on scientists working in small industry as well as the policy sector. For that purpose a specific training program was developed. It contained Knowledge Transfer modules (e.g. courses, workshops, etc), which were organised and delivered during the entire project and especially in its second half. During and after the training, WP3 also conducted a survey and analysis of the effectiveness of the approaches adopted. Here, a range of factors were evaluated, such as the information content of the training packages, the choice of the audience, the combination of Knowledge Transfer media (consultations, reports, white papers, workshops, etc), and the overall impact of the Knowledge Transfer. Successful dissemination activities did usually lead to the design of new Knowledge Transfer modules.

1. How MG4U implemented a training program

Using the information collected and analysed in WP2, the training working group determined the content and format of training to be provided in MG4U, and formulated guidelines for its implementation. All decisions on the subject areas and contents to be covered in the MG4U training programme were validated by the General Assembly (GA).

With the help of WP2-WP5 the training modules were customized to the needs of the specific target community, e.g. junior academic researchers, industry researchers, and policy representatives. The majority of the Knowledge Transfer was organised and delivered in the second half of the project. Here cross-links with other networks and programs were also used to collaboratively carry out dissemination for a common purpose. The status of each training module was described in five consecutive steps: suggested-accepted-organised-delivered-assessed. By the end of the project we had delivered eight modules and at least five of them were assessed.
Please see attached document "Overview of modules delivered in the WP3".

Potential Impact:
MG4U had ambitious objectives given the limited resources and especially the limited time available to reach its goal. The partnership started by making a large effort to gather information related to the recent and on-going projects in the field of marine genomics research. This step was essential to develop tools and a strategy enabling the initiation of the Knowledge Transfer activities to the scientific community, the industry and the governance. Unfortunately the effort required to identify, collect and analyse the knowledge generated by the marine genomics research projects was greatly underestimated. The tool developed and adapted to MG4U (i.e the Knowledge Output Table) and the amount of information they contain today testifies to the commitment of all partners in trying to tackle the challenges coming out MG4U objectives.

Even if MG4U methodology was inspired from another FP7 project called MarineTT, the partnership had to carry out a huge effort to adapt it to the specific area that is marine genomics and so improve this methodology in its global nature. In each phase, new insights were gained and methodology refined. MG4U is now proposing a well-defined strategy to identify, collect, analyse and transfer knowledge. It has a potential for application across many scientific domains and can be adapted in the future for any initiatives which would aim to promote a specific area of Science.

Major successes of the MG4U project include:
¤ Identification of relevant recent and on-going (corresponding to FP6 and FP7 periods) research projects related to marine genomics at different levels (European & national)
¤ Design of a typical marine genomics project lifecycle to identify the different types of outputs which could be of interest
¤ Conceptualization of a methodology and a new tool dedicated to the collection of knowledge from research in marine genomics
¤ List of outputs and identification of the most promising: around 400 outputs with potential applications in one or more sectors of interest (i.e. science, industry and policy) from 70 European or national funded projects
¤ Development of a database of knowledge outputs (tables) accessible through a web portal
¤ Design, organisation (or support) and delivery of training sessions and workshops in the scientific sector
¤ Conduct of workshops to gather scientists and policy makers representatives
¤ Development of a peer-reviewed article on the use of genomics in biodiversity monitoring
¤ Identification of marine genomics areas and services of interest to fields and sectors of industry
¤ Active participation in several industry-focused events, to increase MG4U’s visibility, disseminate marine genomics information and to facilitate contacts between academic researchers and industry
¤ Implementation of dedicated sessions at large business conventions with industrial foci to discuss uptake mechanisms of marine genomics knowledge along the value chain
¤ Creation of a database of qualified industry contacts and multipliers, also for use beyond the project duration

The MG4U project will have widespread impact and will hopefully be seen as one the reference projects that contributed to the promotion of research science outputs at different levels and that helped to foster innovation from research.

A. Socio-economic impacts

The MG4U methodology judges that all outputs coming from all steps of a research project can have a beneficial impact that could benefit society. Here, the use of the word “impact” implies a broad definition that includes scientific advancement, influence on policy, public understanding of science and, of course, impact on the economy when research is translated into commercial application.

To measure efficiently the impact of an initiative, it should be done in a long-term perspective. MG4U lasted 30 months, enabling the partnership to develop its methodology but this short period made it difficult to measure a long-term impact.

Within the MG4U project, measurement of the impact of the Knowledge Transfer activities was broken into two distinct elements:
• Measurement of transfer and uptake: this was done immediately after the transfer activity;
• Development of indicators and measurement of the long-term impact.

For the modules organised in the first part of the project, long-term impact assessments were conducted approximately 6 months or 1 year after the delivery. For more recent events, it was difficult to fully assess the impact, or at least, the partnership was only able to measure a short-term impact. Focus on this kind of activity is a very important element of Knowledge Transfer that must be encouraged in whatever fields of research.

More significantly perhaps, the experience gained from MG4U can be transferred to other European initiatives, notably the ESFRI infrastructure EMBRC. In essence, EMBRC will be focused on the provision of access to remarkable ecosystems, bio-resources and “omics” for the European science community in marine biology and ecology, both for the public scientists and the private sectors. EMBRC will service the community in other ways, e. g. by promoting the development of key enabling technologies, many of them based on genomics approaches. Collectively, marine stations hold a huge innovation potential. Applications fields include gene and cell engineering (cell factories), bio-refineries, services in bioinformatics and biostatistics, nutrition, health and health care, aquaculture, bio-remediation, bio-monitoring, impact assessment, biological conservation, ecological engineering and more. These are seen as very important assets to promote "blue growth" in Europe and EMBRC is expected to rapidly become a focal point for the implementation of the regional (smart specialization strategy), national (JPI Oceans) and European (H2020) policies in marine biology and ecology.
At several instances during the EMBRC preparatory phase (2009-213) it was recognized that Knowledge Transfer is one of the major missing links in the value chain between knowledge and innovation in marine biology. In its business plan, EMBRC has thus allocated resources to service the marine sciences community through Knowledge Transfer activities. Hence the MG4U legacy should be both long lasting (ESFRI Research Infrastructures are being constructed for 20-25 years) and significant: it will markedly help to consolidate the whole of the innovation chain, from knowledge generation to provision of new products and services and impact the maritime economy of a number of European regions and countries, much beyond the MG4U initial partnership.

B. Dissemination

MG4U was focused on results coming from marine genomics research projects (European and national ones, corresponding to the FP6 and FP7 periods) but the MG4U partnership also carried out dissemination of its own activities and results.

Dissemination activities were developed mainly in the framework of the Work package 6 (project promotion, linkages and synergies) or at least in collaboration with this WP6. These activities included both (i) the promotion of the project, its objectives, its methodology, and its expected results and (ii) the dissemination of the most promising knowledge identified as a result of the work done in the Work Package 2.

Press releases in several media informed the public on a regular basis. Regular information was spread though newsletters (such as Thalocean Investors newsletter, AquaTT training news, Aqua-tnet newsletter, EurOcean newsletter, AquaTT announcements, etc…), articles in relevant press (Aquaculture Europe Magazine, International AquaFeed Magazine, International Innovation, etc…), interviews and video (International Innovation, and Eurovision).

Factsheets describing MG4U were developed and distributed at several events. They provided an overview or were promoting selected research projects and describing them based on the MG4U knowledge output database.

A dedicated website ( was created early in the covered period and regularly updated. Information about the project can be found on this platform. Particularly in the “news” section which is regularly updated and announce major MG4U activities and events, and also in the “Media Centre” section where documents can be downloaded (factsheet, events reports, press releases, etc…)

In addition to the dedicated project website, EurOcean website hosts the Marine Knowledge Gate which is the repository of the knowledge outputs (KO) gathered and analysed during the knowledge collection and analysis (WP2).

Both websites will be maintained after MG4U has ended, enabling interested parties to find information about the project itself and about the collected knowledge in a sustainable way.

The MG4U project methodology and outcomes have been presented several times including major events such as Biotechnica and Biomarine 2011, and Achema and Biomarine 2012 as described above in this report. Workshops and courses organised by MG4U were also opportunities to introduce the work done by the partnership. MG4U had also specific slots at several meetings and conferences. Here are two examples of importance where presentations were done during the covered period:
¤ Lisbon Atlantic Conference, Lisbon – Portugal, 29 Nov 2011, formal presentation of the project.
¤ EMBRC Crete Workshop, Greece, May 2013, presentation of the methodology during this workshop focused on Knowledge Transfer activities.

All these activities led to a positive impact of the project and enabled to arouse interest of the community but also of other research sectors.

MG4U partners have been active, during the period of the project, in engaging with and/or collaborating with other initiatives. MG4U succeeded in promoting the proof-of-concept it developed and partners will continue in the future to promote and use the methodology, especially partners who are involved in the European infrastructures EMBRC which plan to offer Knowledge Transfer activities as one of its main service to the users’ community.

C. Conclusions

The tools in marine biology and ecology have been markedly improved in the last 10 years. They are now as sophisticated as the methods used with terrestrial bio-resources and ecosystems. High through-put methods referred to as marine genomics opens the way for a « blue revolution » in the production and uses of biological resources from the sea, along the following lines:
- Blue agronomy: to develop knowledge and tools for resource management, in fisheries or in aquaculture;
- Blue biotechnology: to invent new ways of using marine organisms, e.g. the domestication of cell factories;
- Blue chemistry: to develop novel, marine bio-molecules and bio-processes.

However, a large amount of this valuable, recent knowledge in marine biology and ecology is inaccessible to some potential users or it exists in non-user-friendly contexts. In particular, the direct utility of marine genomics in developing commercial advantage is not understood by many policy leaders in government and industry. This is specifically relevant in marine biology and ecology, where the innovation ecosystem still mainly consists of SMEs, often located close to their biological resources but with limited R&D forces, or of larger groups which have recognized only recently the potential of marine resources. In the “blue growth” innovation chains, from the generation of knowledge to the development of new solutions, services and products that would fuel the maritime economy, Knowledge Transfer for effective industrial uptake is still clearly an important missing link.

The CSA “Marine Genomics for Users (KBBE.2010.3.2-02)” was implemented to address these difficulties. The MG4U consortium consisted of research public institutes for fundamental marine biology and ecology (partners 1 CNRS, 2 UCC, 4 UGOT, 6 IRTA, 7 CCMAR), including related to aquaculture and fisheries (2 UCC, 6 IRTA, 7 CCMAR), and private institutions specialised in Knowledge Transfer for the fisheries and aquaculture sector among others (3 AquaTT) or for environmental agencies and biotech companies (5 EMPA).

The initial goal of the proposal, to provide a comprehensive analysis of the national or European marine genomics projects in FP6 and FP7 was not achieved. It was soon realised that, in a situation where researchers still have little motivation or incentive to transfer knowledge beyond their own scientific community, collecting and structuring knowledge (methods, results, data, applications…) is a very difficult task, which requires a lot of human interactions as well as incentives for the research community.

This CSA achieved as main outcome, however, the development a methodology for Knowledge Transfer that can reach out to scientists as well as to governmental and industrial decision-makers. Briefly, knowledge can be collected, sorted and analysed from marine genomics projects, and then placed in an easily searchable interactive knowledge base. This tool will now allow users to drill down into the contents and find exactly what is relevant to them for their innovation strategy. Other dissemination tools were developed, including interaction within think tanks at specialised business conventions and participation to genomic observatories.

MG4U hence provided transversal dissemination common tools and methodologies to accelerate Knowledge Transfer in the field of marine biology and ecology. They do not replace the need for vertical dissemination, based on continuous, long-term discussions with potential end-users of marine genomics over a given territory. However, through face to face discussions with companies (mostly SMEs), MG4U validated the fact that marine genomics knowledge holds a real potential in job creation in the bio-based blue economy.

In conclusion, efficient Knowledge Transfer is a slow and long-term performing process which needs to continuously involve technology transfer officers from academic research and multipliers (for example, in France SATT, Competitiveness clusters, etc…). This essential activity is better carried out by centralisation as an infrastructure activity, which can be further mutualised at the EU level.

For this reason MG4U proposes that its methodology and goals are taken over by the future pan European infrastructure known as the “European Marine Biological Resources Biological Centre” (EMBRC). EMBRC is indeed planning to develop a common platform for Knowledge Transfer, consisting of a knowledge and technology transfer coordinator in its core secretariat and Knowledge Transfer officers in its nodes. Such an organisation should be able to promote both horizontal and vertical transfer throughout the actors of the maritime bio economy in Europe. These core activities will markedly enhance intellectual property brokerage for the EMBRC community as a whole and increase EMBRC economic impact. The interest of coupling marine genomics with environmental policies also is more and more recognized as a duty which will also be taken over by EMBRC. Within EMBRC, MG4U heritage can be prolonged and extended in several maritime European regions through the EU Research and Innovation as well as Cohesion policies.

List of Websites:

MG4U developed and regularly updated its own website during the project duration.
This website will be maintained in the future and will enable any interested people to access information and download documents presented in the periodic reports and in this present report.

Relevant contact details:

Prof. Bernard Kloareg – MG4U scientific coordinator
Station Biologique de Roscoff
Place Georges Teissier
29680 Roscoff
+33 2 98 29 23 23