Renewable Matter # 08 / January-February

Growing Little Blue Companies

by Ilaria Nardello

Climate change and environmental degradation, a sustainable supply of food and energy and human health and aging populations are some of the challenges that European countries are facing today. In this context, marine biotechnology can and should make a major contribution to the economic recovery, growth, creation of jobs and development of smarter and greener economies in Europe. 

The Atlantic BlueTech Project questioned the maturity of this sector, in the Atlantic regions of France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. Dominated by small and micro enterprises, the sector appears to be still relatively young and very dynamic, with a significant number of companies established over the past 15 years, and the older businesses going back only to the 1980s. In this landscape, innovation is a must for companies to survive. Together with industry-university clusters and EU Projects, industry-research cooperation appears as one of the main drivers for innovation. Access to technology was on the other hand identified as one of the major obstacle to growth and innovation, as well as finances. 

Stronger incentives are needed to encourage academic/industry links and the co-development of both technology and related intellectual property: the increased emphasis on protecting IP in research centres is hindering joint innovation development between industry and academia; and academic research groups and infrastructures fail to meet the criteria for an effective industry engagement. The need is for a marine bio-resources research infrastructure dedicated to industry innovation at the transnational level; and for human resources acting at the interface between industry and academia. 

ABT’s recommendations include the support of collaborative programmes within the education sector and the development of strong academic-industry links through co-location of innovation business parks. Support the development of trans-disciplinary marine bio-resources clusters, built around a reference knowledge provider, should also be a priority for public agencies. Industry-university partnerships in education and broad-based industry-led research initiatives would also make significant contributions in achieving socio-economic amelioration and smart specialisation of the Atlantic regions of Europe, along the lines suggested by the European Commission’s Blue Growth strategy for the sustainable and socially inclusive development of the marine bio-resources sector.

 

 

Atlantic BlueTech Project, tinyurl.com/ooe86jv

European Commission’s Blue Growth strategy, tinyurl.com/ox8o6lz