A delegation of Irish representatives from the industry, policy and research sectors will be leaving for Canada in early September to stimulate further use of our marine biological resources through marine biotechnology driven R&D initiatives. The initiative is overseen by the Office of the Vice-President for Research of NUI Galway and is activated by the Marine Biotechnology Research Coordination Unit, a trans-institutional initiative based in NUI Galway, supported by the Marine Institute.
The delegation gathers the interests of research partners such as NUI Galway, Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre and other research centres that are focused on the goals set out by Ireland’s Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy, 2007-2013 (Sea Change) for the National Marine Biotechnology Programme. In particular, NUI Galway is a key component of the Marine Institute Beaufort Award for Marine Biodiscovery Research and have responsibilities in the national Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative (NutraMara), coordinated by Teagasc Ashtown. Both programmes are funded by the Marine Research sub-programme of the current National Development Plan (NDP, 2007-2013) with the aim to mine our marine biological resources to bring novel materials in the health & wellbeing, biomaterials and food sectors.
Among the research performers, and with a strong vocation for services to industry is also the Shannon ABC group, an Enterprise Ireland funded Research Gate infrastructure and a collaboration between Limerick IT and Tralee IT. Industry delegates include the historical business of Arramara Teo, the main supplier of raw seaweed material from the west coast; and Oilean Glas Teoranta (OGT), an Irish company with a core business based on the harvesting and processing macro algae from the Donegal coast, for applications in the horticulture, animal health, cosmetics, human nutrition, biopharma sectors and other value-added markets.
Dr Ilaria Nardello, Marine Biotechnology Research Coordinator, NUI Galway, said: “It’s very novel that such a combination of industry, research and agencies aggregates in a short time to engage in a long distance business-opportunity trip. The participation of representatives from the development agency Údarás na Gaeltachta is particularly significant given the agency’s awareness of the need to add value to our marine biological resources and be integral part of the innovation process.”
The delegation will attend the international business convention ‘Biomarine 2013’ in Halifax. NUI Galway’s Professor Deniz Tasdemir and Dr Ilaria Nardello and Declan Troy of Teagasc, have been invited to participate in the conference’s panel discussions, producing relevant visibility for Ireland in the convention. The panels will debate the emergence and role of marine biotech clusters, in various areas of the world, including Ireland, France and USA, and the relevance of our natural product research outputs to application sectors such as healthcare, biomaterials, nutrition and environment.
The conference will be followed by a dedicated visit to the Technopole Maritime du Quebec (TMQ), at Rimouski. A Memorandum of understanding between NUI Galway and the TMQ will describe their mutual interests and intention to jointly apply for funding for marine biotech R&D initiatives. A call will be issued to small, medium and large size industry to engage in collaborative research programmes under the Eureka and Atlantic Area Cooperation programmes, as well as EU Horizon 2020, to develop collaborative activities in the health & wellbeing sectors, diagnostics, biosensors and novel biomaterials.
Dr Nardello continued: “These events demonstrate that the marine environment’s potential has been fully recognised by the policy, industry and research sectors. The marine biotechnology community appears poised to unite and collaborate around concrete initiatives. In line with the recent 'Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation', the Atlantic is proving to be an area of convergence for research and development endeavours around ‘the marine environment’, which can fuel Ireland’s ‘Blue Economy’ and create business and employment opportunities.”