Ostend, 14 December 2010 - Europe can become a global leader in marine biotechnology within 10 years, according to a new report from the Marine Board of the European Science Foundation. Marine biotech currently represents a 2.8 billion euro market globally, with potential to grow up to 12% annually if industry and academics work together.
Europe's four seas and two oceans provide a huge variety of conditions of temperature, pressure, light and chemistry, from shallow coastal waters to the deep ocean. The adaptations which have enabled marine organisms to thrive in these conditions have resulted in a living library of diversity which is largely unexplored and underexploited. Marine biotechnologists can develop new products and services based on these resources that can contribute to addressing critical future challenges such as a sustainable supply of food and energy, development of new drugs and health treatments, and providing new industrial materials and processes.
"Marine biotechnology not only creates jobs and wealth, it can also contribute to the development of greener, smarter economies," said Lars Horn of the Research Council of Norway and Chair of the Marine Board. "Japan, China and the USA are already investing heavily in marine biotechnology. If we fail to act, Europe will lose out."
Biofuels are just one example of how marine biotech can help deliver the Europe 2020 strategy: cultivating microalgae for fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. This technology is perhaps the most promising way of harnessing the ocean's bioenergy, but needs more in-depth research to cut costs and increase production.
Europe's waters also offer a potential source of drugs, biomaterials and industrial products such as biopolymers. More than 13 marine-derived treatments are already in clinical development, many targeting cancer. There is also scope for marine biotech to further improve the capacity of aquaculture to meet Europe
|Contact: Chloe Kembery|
European Science Foundation