Monday, March 9, 2015

09/03/2015: Review: Biomarine Business Convention

by Simon J Davies, Professor of Marine Biosciences and Aquaculture Nutrition, Brixham Blue Hub, University of Plymouth 

First published in International Aquafeed, January-February 2015

I was delighted to attend the 5th Biomarine Business Convention held in the Estoril centre near Cascais, Portugal on 29th -31st October representing Plymouth University and its new Brixham Blue Hub in Devon, England at the heart of the SW fishing and processing industry.
As usual, this was an excellent and well-organised meeting across the marine biosciences sector. People from all over the world gathered in once place to share ideas and a passion for marine conservation and opportunities for wealth creation and business derived from our precious ocean resources. The conference brought together CEOs, top executives and start-ups from around the world to discuss the importance of marine bio-resources and the importance of the blue economy.

Under the experienced stewardship of Pierre and Veronique Erwes, (and assistance of his talented sons’ Antione and Nicolas) new ground was broken and innovative approaches launched to widen dissemination through media. This included for the first time the advent of Biomarine TV with live on-streaming and daily interviews with expert leaders in each discipline. His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was present delivering a balanced view on global food security from the seas and consideration for the environment with emphasis on pragmatism with the need for sustainable development in technology and the business sector with respect to our growing energy needs and diminishing fish stocks with concerns for any irresponsible aquaculture practices. His passionate views relating to global climate change and issues such as ocean acidification are a prime area for his Foundation to help resolve. His Monaco Foundation provides inspiration and generous funding for these topical problems to be scientifically addressed by leading universities and agencies. 

This 5th edition of BioMarine was a deemed to be special since the Portuguese Government is deploying its new Blue Growth Strategy. This maritime country is re-discovering its unique heritage and we witnessed the entire national industry united in the forum to project its stated aims of achieving the ‘Blue Economy’ initiative as a national policy driver. I spoke briefly to The President of the Republic of Portugal, His Excellency, Aníbal Cavaco Silva who told me that this convention had his full support and was a great platform for Portugal to embrace new science and technologies in a very important and strategic sector that was important for Europe and the world. 

It was also the case of full speed ahead for BICA, The1st General Assembly of BICA (Biomarine International Clusters Association) was held on October 29th at the Estoril Congress Center, Portugal opening new avenues for business collaboration and new venture capital investment engagement. HSH Prince Albert II has been actively championing its creation. 

Besides current Founding Members, several entities attended the meeting. The Board welcomed new associate members: Nofima Norway, European Marine Science Park Cluster-Scotland Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Shoalhaven Blue Tech Australia, Plymouth University – Marine Institute and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Pedro Nunes, Head of Eureka Secretariat gave a presentation on the mechanism initiate the Eureka Biomarine Cluster. 2015 will be a busy year for BICA as this will become embedded in forming synergies and alliances that will attract new funding routes and the incubation of new business interests with robust international underpinning.

Key issues spanned over 20 themes such as:
•    Biotechnology and Genetics in Aquaculture
•    Micro algae: the key to improving Nutrition worldwide
•    Marine compounds as natural ingredients for the nutraceuticals and the cosmetic industry. 

Another area was, how can Norway, as a leading maritime country, help develop and boost marine research and innovations in other parts of the world?

Developing use of marine by-products and discards from agriculture for nutraceutical uses as an untapped potential of biomolecules extracted from marine organisms was a most important topic for many companies.

Is a vegetal diet in the next generation of aquafeed? Marine Biotech: novel strategies for marine microbe cultivation, Marine Biotechnology: Start-ups’ strategy to attract the right investors opened wide possibilities.

From the perspective of International Aquafeed and my own specialisation in fish nutrition, I participated briefly in the live Biomarine TV event with my own experience of work on suitable plant based ingredients for use in complete aquafeeds. This is a good topic and formed a basis for lively debate.  

There was clearly a strong focus on micro and macro-algae with many examples of products on hand to demonstrate the wide applications in food and beverages on the grounds of taste and health. We were treated with a variety of ice creams, yogurts and chocolate delights tinged with chlorella and other strains of algae giving an interesting twist of flavours and tangs. Even algae enriched olive oil and algae ‘spiked’ champagne provided that green effect. My next cocktail will be ‘shaken but not stirred’ with algae!! Bond would never indulge!

As usual, there was very secure sponsorship of the event and Novus, a4f, Allma, Aquagen, Blue Genomics Chile, Soya de Portugal, Ciimar, Nofima, Research Council of Norway, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation and Presidency of Portugal along with many others provided their support.

Biomarine 2015 will be held on the East coast state of North Carolina at Wilmington (home of a very good fish nutrition and marine sciences programme at UNC) Wilmington and has the backing of the State legislator and the NC biotechnology and business associations such as the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and Marine Bio-technologies Center of Innovation. It will be its first Biomarine event held in the USA, and will build on the legacy of Portugal.

Given the warmth, grace and hospitality of the Portuguese, the Americans have a great template to work from! I have no doubt they will do Biomarine and Pierre Erwes and his team proud.

Read the magazine HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

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