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ERA-MBT Report Summary

Project ID: 604814
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: Norway

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ERA-MBT (Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET)

Project Context and Objectives:
The ERA-NET MarineBiotech (ERA-MBT) recognises that Europe’s marine ecosystems and organisms are largely unexplored, understudied and underutilized, in spite of Europe’s access to an extensive and diverse set of marine ecosystems, supporting an enormous marine biodiversity. This resource, through the coordinated application of marine biotechnology, has the potential to provide a major contribution towards addressing some of the most pressing societal challenges including environmental degradation, human health and delivering sustainable supplies of food and energy, amongst others regarded as the Grand Challenges for our future. The ERA-MBT is therefore designed to deliver better coordination of relevant national and regional Research, Technology Development and Innovation programmes in Europe, reducing fragmentation and duplication, and paving the way for common programs and cooperation in the provision and use of research infrastructures; a necessity to make sustainable use of this unique resource.
ERA-MBT's 19 partners will work with stakeholders from industry and organisations to identify needs and gaps in the value chain from research and development, through optimizing research results for proof of consept and industrial uptake and valorisation. At least three transnational calls will address these challenges, and cooperations with complementing activities will be explored to add value and power to enable the development of a horisontally applicable technology like marine biotechnology.

At month 30, two transnational calls have been done with altogether 10 projects being funded. The third call is under preparation. Industrial and international issues have been addressed, and have given useful information about financial and collaboration challenges facing the uptake and development of marine biotechnology. There is no doubt that its importance as an enabling technology for sustainable utilization of marine biological resources is being recognized, and an increased awareness towards developments taking this into account is seen both from national strategies and the EU. Internationally (outside EU), it is challenging to find the same focus, but seven countries are identified as interesting to explore further for possible, future developments and collaborations.

The project has produced a "Marine Biotechnology Strategic Research and Innovation Roedmap" towards 20130, which presents and discuss five core areas with sub-themes needed for the successful development of marine biotechnology. The roadmap will be public in October 2016.

For updated info and access to public reports from the project, see

Project Results:
In general, the project is running on schedule for most deliverables. The deliverable structure in the DoW has been followed, but due to capacity reasons, some have been postponed. This will not impact on the progress of the project and the final deliveries.
In WP1, ‘Project management and coordination’, the tasks have been performed as outlined in the DoW. The management structure was somewhat changed with more emphasis on the communication with the work package leaders (WPLs). Due to this, project management team meetings (PMT) have been reduced to every 6 months and WPL-meetings have been added as needed. This gives a stronger emphasis on the coordinator's and work package leaders' need to coordinate and discuss progress. This has made project advancements more effective. As there has been a close contact between the coordinator's office and the WP leaders, corrective actions were performed smoothly. All management tools have been established.
In WP2, "Strategy for the marine biotechnology ERA-NET and beyond in the context of the European Bioeconomy", a major emphasis has been put on preparing the Strategic Roadmap for MBT. This has been finalized, and will be officially launched during an event in Brussels October 2016. An efficient and truncated scenario process (Outlook) has been done to give central input to the roadmap. The second Stakeholder Workshop is being planned to be held in Brussels October 2016. Meetings with the International Advisory Group was held which gave valuable input to the roadmap and topics for the 3rd call.
In WP3, "Interactions with industry", a definition on marine biotechnology has been developed, and an updating of the marine biotechnology environment in Europe has been performed. Other deliverables have concerned IPR/IPP issues, technology transfer practice and policy and a mapping of funding schemes for marine biotechnology financing. Much information on these issues where gathered in a questionnaire issued in the first project year, where also information on quality and access to infrastructures was achieved. Some deliverables are postponed to the last project period due to capacity reasons.
In WP4, "Outreach to external activities", the updating of relevant regional, national and European initiatives have been continued. An update and analysis of international MBT initiatives have been done. This built on an extensive survey made in the CSA MarineBiotech project, and concluded in this project period, that there are 7 possible countries to explore further. A fact finding mission as proposed in the DoW,will not be done, but the WP4 leader will in capacity of his work with PtJ, explore some of the possibilities. An interaction with the AORA project is established and is followed up closely.
In WP5, "Joint activities: implementation of joint calls and training & education activities", the second call on "Biodiscovery - Bioactive molecules from the marine environment" was launched and finalized with 4 funded project slightly after this reporting period (July 2016). An education and training survey was done and posted to the web through EMBRIC's learning portal in addition to our own website.
In WP6 "Communication, information management and dissemination", a Communication Strategy and Plan have been developed. Further, the visual project identity, such as logo, outreach material and home page have been successfully designed and implemented. Two newsletters have been produced in the period, highlighting achievements by ERA-MBT. The production of newsletters is behind schedule and will have more focus during the last project period.

Potential Impact:
ERA-MBT aims to increase the level of coordination between European funding bodies interested in the development of marine biotechnology as an enabling technology contributing to the development of the bioeconomy. Within this, complementarities between national activities must be achieved, and scientific and monetary resources needs to be pooled to undertake joint funding of transnational projects which develops marine biotechnology.
As contacts have been made and activities have proceeded, it seems that a closer collaboration especially towards North America (Canada) might be realized.
The impacts should lead to greater integration of research actors and activities across Europe and towards selected areas outside. Also, as partners gets better aligned and together develop marine biotechnology, the aim is that a self-sustained and long lasting network of programme managers, scientific communities and enterprises will be established to further develop marine biotechnology after the ERA-MBT project has ended.
The ERA-MBT project has networked stakeholders through meetings where dialogues set directions for future priorities and developments. This has impact on the topic selected for the transnational calls, where the two first calls has resulted in 10 funded projects with a budget of about 15 m€.
Members of the consortium have been invited by the Commission, different workshops and survey projects to contribute knowledge within marine biotechnology both on a European scale and in national processes.

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