Advancing the Blue Bioeconomy
The new European network ERA-NET BlueBio COFUND aims to advance the sustainable use and development of aquatic biomass for the Blue Bioeconomy.
Oceans and seas are rich in bioresources. Developing these resources in a sustainable way is the goal of stakeholders in politics, science and industry that are committed to the Blue Bioeconomy. Already today, many algae, mussels, corals and jellyfish are being researched for applications as new food and pharmaceuticals as well as sustainable materials. However, not all the secrets of the oceans have been revealed yet. Neither has the potential of many new technologies, including those from the field of biotechnology biotechnology, yet been fully tapped with regards to aquatic bioresources in both freshwater and marine environments. The new European Research Area-Net Cofund on Blue Bioeconomy (ERA-NET BlueBio COFUND) is dedicated to this very goal. Here, 30 partners from 18 countries have joined forces to advance research and development projects concerning the Blue Bioeconomy. The main focus is on new solutions for food security and the production of healthy and safe food from aquatic resources based on new biological and biotechnological know-how. With the help of the ERA-NET BlueBio COFUND, the networking of relevant actors in the field of the Blue Bioeconomy across Europe is to be strengthened and diverse interactions on a European and international level are to be created.
Big budget for research spanning the Blue Bioeconomy
The funding agencies of the respective countries provide a funding volume of around €23.25 million. The work of the network partners is also supported by the European Commission with several million as part of the pan-European innovation and research programme HORIZION 2020. The new network is the result of a cooperation between the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans and the former ERA-NET initiatives COFASP-Cooperation in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Seafood Processing and MBT- Marine Biotechnology. Germany is represented in the ERA-NET BlueBio COFUND by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).
Aquatic biomass for new biobased products
The partners of the ERA-NET BlueBio COFUND are aiming to advance the development of biotechnological potential and opportunities, including previously undiscovered biological resources from fresh- and saltwater stores, as well as the sustainable use of aquatic biomass along the entire value chain. This also includes the biotechnological cultivation of various aquatic breeding stocks. Aquatic biomass can be either caught in the wild or collected in salt or fresh waters, off-shore or on land. The resulting waste and residual flows are to be utilised and made usable with the aid of new alternative utilisation methods within the framework of a closed-loop economy.
A first call for proposals has now been published to promote research and development projects across four different thematic areas:
- explore new resources (e.g. with regard to the biodiversity of freshwater bioresources, the use of Omics-technologies, the use of waste or the development of microbiomes)
- improve the production of fish, aquaculture and biomass (including through the development of environmentally and climate-friendly methods/processes/technologies/resources or new feed)
- Exploiting synergies (e.g. between marine and freshwater sectors, blue-blue synergies or blue-green synergies)
- Use information- and communication-based biotechnology (e.g. use of artificial intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, machine learning for traceability of aquatic food chains)
The network ERA-NET BlueBio COFUND supports interdisciplinary transnational collaborative projects in which at least three partners from research and industry from three different countries are involved. The first transnational call will involve funding organisations from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden.
The project ideas must be feasible within the alloted project duration. The call for proposals is aimed at academic research institutions as well as small and medium-sized enterprises in the above-mentioned countries. Each consortium is required to include partners from industry. The respective grants for project outlines identified as eligible for funding will be awarded on a country-specific basis. Each partner country finances the applicants basd in their own country. In addition, research and/or industry partners can participate in projects with their own funds as so-called external contributors. These may come both from partner countries of the ERA-NET BlueBio consortium and from countries that are not involved in the ERA-NET BlueBio.
Researchers interested to apply for this funding are cordially invited to take part in a "Brokerage Event" in Norway on 30 January 2019. Follow this link to register: https://blubio-brokerage-event-2019.b2match.io/.
Three-tiered application procedure
The duration of project funding is up to three years. The application procedure consists of three stages. Project outlines focusing on one of the above-mentioned topics must be submitted to the ERA-NET BlueBio secretariat via the European submission-bluebio platform by 17 March 2019 at the latest.
The project management organisation Jülich was commissioned to handle this funding measure for the BMBF. Contact persons are Jella Kandziora (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Katerina Kotzia (email@example.com). It is recommended to contact the project management organisation before applying.