The EU 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development funded Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET (ERA-MBT), prepared a roadmap for future marine biotechnology research and innovation.
The Marine Biotechnology Research and Innovation Roadmap was launched by ERA-MBT in Brussels elast week. The EU funded Marine Biotechnology Consortium, ERA-MBT, brings together 19 partners from 14 countries across Europe to work with stakeholders in identifying marine biotechnological needs, and gaps in the value chain in an attempt to increase the valorisation of marine bioresources. Developing a roadmap for future research and innovation was a key project deliverable and it will now set the direction for future marine biotechnology developments and transnational activities in Europe.
Today’s bioeconomy is advancing faster and showing greater promise than ever before, driven by both scientific advances and markets demanding sustainable solutions to today’s global grand challenges of food and fuel security, sustainable industry and population health. The global market for marine biotechnology has the potential to reach €5.8 billion by 2025 and Europe is recognised as a high-potential region for future growth resulting from an extensive, yet largely unexplored marine resource.
The Marine Biotechnology Strategic Research and Innovation Roadmap has been developed to support the development of marine biotechnology research and innovation, enabling its growth within a self-sustained enterprise driven network. The Roadmap provides a practical and realistic approach by which marine bioresources and biotechnology can contribute to economic and societal progress. National and European policy organisations can use the Roadmap in developing measures to maximise the contribution of the Ocean’s bioresources to the bioeconomy and societal welfare, and funding agencies can use it to identify marine biotechnology related research themes.
The preparatory work to the roadmap involved partners in the ERA-MBT project conducting desk studies, on-line questionnaires, interviews, stakeholder workshops, a foresight-like study and extensive engagement with an advisory group of international experts (Appendix 1). A goal of ERA-MBT is to support the development of marine biotechnology research and innovation, enabling its growth within a self-sustained enterprise driven network. The EU Blue Growth strategy embeds marine biotechnology in the Bioeconomy Strategy for Europe recognising its role in helping to meet the societal and other challenges faced by Europe. In developing this roadmap, ERA-MBT identified an optimistic future for marine biotechnology; one closely aligned with the sustainable utilisation of marine bioresources in ways that establish new markets, generates revenue and increases employment.
Exploring the potential of marine biodiversity has increased, indicating it to be a rich source of novel natural compounds. Some of these compounds are already used in food, cosmetic, agricultural, chemical and pharmaceutical products, but their diversity has not been fully characterised and utilised. Further opportunities exist for the use of ocean bioresources in markets for industrial enzymes, functional foods, cosmeceuticals, biomaterials, bioprocessing and medical devices.
The ERA-MBT research and innovation roadmap highlights research and innovation as spanning scientific, technological, economic and societal challenges and in doing so, sets a marine biotechnology research and innovation agenda to 2030. The roadmap identifies five thematic areas; the first three enable the exploration of the marine environment; support biomass production and processing; and contribute to product innovation and differentiation; whilst the remaining two, policy support and stimulation; and the provision of enabling technologies and infrastructure; provide the essential foundation to support growth in the bioeconomy.