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CSA (Coordinating) in Marine Biotechnology

Final Report Summary - MARINEBIOTECH (CSA (Coordinating) in Marine Biotechnology)

Executive Summary:

The CSA MarineBiotech is a Coordinating and Support Action (CSA), set up to support countries in Europe to consider the potential of marine biotechnology for scientific, economic and social benefit. There were 11 partners from 9 European countries, and the project was coordinated by the Research Council of Norway. The project started October 2011 and finished March 2013 (18 months). During the course of the project, 2 workshops and 1 public conference were organised by the consortium members, in order to bring together stakeholders (researchers, industry, policymakers, funders), to discuss priorities and actions in the marine biotechnology context. An ultimate goal was to found a consortium of funing agencies intersted in applying for an ERA-NET in marine biotechnology.

Marine biotechnology means the use of marine bioresources as the target or source of biotechnological applications, and includes:

- The sustainable use of marine bioresources like microbes, seaweeds and invertebrates, for industrial purposes, such as new medicines (bioactive compounds), food production, and new, beneficial food ingredients, new biomaterials and ‘green’ chemicals (e.g. enzymes), and alternative energy sources;
- The application of biotechnology in the marine context, such as molecular tools applied to benefit the development of aquaculture (vaccines, feed, breeding), for ecosystem services (biosensors, monitoring, bioremediation), and for understanding ecosystems.
- The development of molecular tools fitted for use towards marine biological materials.

In the European context, the CSA-MarineBiotech aimed to stimulate the development of a strategy, so that marine bioresources can contribute to answering the Grand Challenges for Europe on the one hand and enhancement of the knowledge-based Bioeconomy on the other. This will be done by aligning research, development and innovation through the joint project calls within an ERA-NET (European Research Area Network) focused on marine biotechnology.

The foundation for a potential ERA-NET in the area of Marine Biotechnology, the ERA-MBT required:

- Gaining a better understanding of the Marine Biotechnology landscape in Europe and beyond, by carrying out an analysis of the current landscape (research effort, infrastructures, stakeholders, strategies and programmes, gaps and barriers to cooperation) and preparing three reports and contributions to conferences;
- Mobilising key stakeholders, by extending the partnership of funding agencies by means of the MarineBiotech Strategic Forum, and setting up the MarineBiotech Stakeholders Group;
- Disseminating information about activities in order to raise the profile and awareness of marine biotechnology, by organising information sessions, workshops and other project activities;
- Sketching the contours of a future cooperation between funding agencies in the area of Marine Biotechnology, by supporting the extended network of funding agencies and representative governmental organisations (The Strategic Forum) in setting the stage for appropriate cooperation tools to develop joint programmes and pool resources for collaborative research on a European scale;
- Managing information relevant to marine biotechnology research, technology development and innovation, making this available via a dedicated web-site (including Wiki pages), newsletters, reports and briefing documents.

The CSA MarineBiotech has successfully achieved all of these components of the main goal including the establishment of a consortium of 20 funding agencies applying for an ERA-NET in marine biotechnology.

Project Context and Objectives:

The Coordination and Support Action in Marine Biotechnology (CSA MarineBiotech), was a collaborative network funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme and consisted of 11 partners from 9 countries that support marine biotechnology research, development and innovation in Europe. These were the Research Council of Norway (Co-ordinator), BioBridge Ltd UK (Project Manager), the Flanders Marine Institute Belgium, Norgenta Germany, the Technical University of Denmark, CNRS Roscoff France, Ifremer France, the European Marine Board, IAMC-CNR Italy, FCT Portugal and TUBITAK Turkey.

The context was the increasing importance of sustainable development and use of marine bioresources, and the role that marine biotechnology can play in meeting the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century and contributing to develop the bioeconomy. From the outset, one of the main goals of the CSA MarineBiotech has been to prepare the foundation for an ERA-NET on marine biotechnology (ERA-MBT). This has been achieved by expanding the number of committed eligible partners (mainly funding agencies) to develop a broad ERA-MBT Consortium, gaining a better understanding of the European and Global marine biotechnology research, innovation and policy landscape and obtaining advice from key stakeholders to guide the development of a well positioned ERA-MBT. The main objectives have been to mobilise and engage funding agencies and stakeholders, create a Strategic Forum to form the basis of a Working Group on an ERA-NET proposal, create a Stakeholder Group for advice and support, establish a web-site that can become the portal for all information on marine biotechnology in Europe, disseminate information and achieve networking through high-impact project events, and publish reports profiling European and international activities in marine biotechnology.

Project Results:

MarineBiotech partners worked during an intensive 18 months period from October 2011 to March 2013 and have successfully:

- Established two communities, of funding agencies and stakeholders active in marine biotechnology, and extended their partnerships;
- Organised information sessions, 2 workshops, a public conference and other project activities;
- Created a dedicated web-site that will become the portal for marine biotechnology research, researchers, funders and interested parties in Europe;
- Provided a better understanding of the marine biotechnology landscape in Europe and beyond, by analyzing research efforts, infrastructures, stakeholders, strategies and programmes, gaps and barriers to cooperation;
- Created newsletters, reports and briefing documents to disseminate information relevant to marine biotechnology RTDI (research, technology development and innovation);
- Sketched the contours of future cooperation between funding agencies in dedicated workshops that set the stage for appropriate cooperation tools, development of joint programmes and pooling of resources for collaborative research;
- Established and expanded the group of funding agencies committed to preparing the proposal and project scope and content for an ERA-NET in marine biotechnology.

Information and reports about of these achievements can be found on the public website.

Potential Impact:

The main impacts of the CSA MarineBiotech have included:

- Raising the profile of marine bioresources and the application of marine biotechnology as contributors to social, economic and scientific development;
- Setting the scene effectively for an ERA-NET in marine biotechnology, thus promoting the ERA and collaboration between European states and increasing their commitment to fund research, development and innovation in this area;
- Establishing a web-based portal for information, thus promoting access of European and international citizens to increased knowledge;
- Beginning the process of describing strategies, policies and programmes internationally, thus setting the scene for improved harmonisation and international action in sustainable investigation, development and use of marine bioresources.

The full impacts will be achieved through the ERA-NET and the continued development and existence of the web-site.

Main dissemination and exploitation activities included 48 dissemination and 11 exploitation items. The main concrete outputs include: three scoping and mapping reports on European and international marine biotechnology strategies, policies and programmes; the web-site and its contents (including Wiki infopages), and a starting database of information about individuals, organisations and projects with intrests in marine biotechnology; 4 newsletters on marine biotechnology topics, with news about the CSA MarineBiotech project itself; an e-mailing list; and a draft for a proposal for an ERA-NET in marine biotechnology submitted in response to the FP7 call of summer 2012. The project created 2 workshops for stakeholders and a conference for broader participation. Exploitation items were all publications providing general enhancement of knowledge, including the reports and newsletters mentioned above.

List of Websites:

Public web site:

Coordinator: The Research Council of Norway, Dr Steinar Bergseth, +47 22 03 73 23

Project Manager: BioBridge Ltd UK, Mr Meredith Lloyd-Evans, +44 1223 566850