Results of DG MARE consultation on marine biotechnology | Marinebiotech

Results of DG MARE consultation on marine biotechnology

Published 24 April 2014

The DG MARE public consultation on marine biotechnology closed on the 10 February 2014 and at a workshop organised by the consultancy company Ecorys on the 11 February, the preliminary results of the public consultation were presented and discussed. This day-long workshop gathered 33 experts from within the area including participants from funding agencies, academia, industry, consultancies and the European Commission. From ERA-MBT Steinar Bergseth, Dermot Hurst and Torger Børresen were participating.

Policy Officer Juan Ronco, DG MARE, welcomed the participants and gave an interesting overview on marine biotechnology as one of the five focus areas in Blue Growth as part of Horizon 2020. He presented the EU vision for marine biotechnology, growing from a currently relatively low employment, to a medium-sized market by 2020. In a third stage of growth, around 15 years from now and subject to technological breakthroughs, marine biotechnology could become a provider of mass-market products, together with a range of high added value specialised products.

The preliminary findings that were presented at the workshop emphasised on the industry state of play. The Blue Biotechnology sector was outlined as comprising discovery and bioprospecting; research and development; product development; up-scaling and commercialisation; and marketing and sales. The total value of the EU biotech sector was estimated to be EUR 15 billion (in terms of revenue), with an average annual growth rate of 8 %. Globally, Blue Biotechnology was described as accounting for 2-5 % of the global biotechnology sector. Based on these estimates, the value of the EU marine biotechnology sector ranges from EUR 300 -750 million. Venture capital investment in the sector has fallen by 17 % since 2008; a problem that was extensively discussed among the participants.

An analysis of patterns of patenting activity in the blue biotech sector was given, showing a trend with a steep increase in the number of patents from 1990 to 2007, and then a levelling off. The question is, whether there will be a more steady state in the coming years, or will the number of patents continue to increase? The top 50 patent filers were companies active within health, cosmetics and enzymes sectors.

The discussion concluded that the Blue Biotechnology sector needed higher visibility, and that collaboration and communication between stakeholders could be improved. The ERA-MBT will contribute the best possible way to improve this situation.