News

New Cooperative Research Centre to kickstart Australia’s next marine industry boom

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is one of 68 partners in the new Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre (MB-CRC) announced today.

Led by Flinders University, the 10-year $270m CRC will fast-track the growth of Australia’s next generation of marine bioindustries, to meet rapidly growing global demand for certified, safe and sustainable products – from plant-based proteins, nutraceuticals and omega 3 oils to cosmetics, agrochemicals, bioplastics and more.

The wide-ranging, decade-long R&D program is set to transform Australia’s emerging marine bioproducts sector into a sustainable, clean and globally competitive industry.

WORKING TOGETHER TO TRANSFORM MARINE BIOPRODUCTS SECTOR

IMAS researcher Associate Professor Catriona Macleod said the MB-CRC includes Australian and international research, industry and government partners working together to expand existing enterprises and drive innovative and high-value products, and develop commercial technologies – providing employment opportunities around Australia.

“IMAS and the University of Tasmania are excited to be a part of this amazing program. It aligns so well with our expertise in marine science, aquaculture and seaweed research at IMAS, but also provides an opportunity for collaboration across a range of disciplines within the University.

“Experts from chemistry, food science, medical sciences, governance and business will all be contributing to the outcomes of this Marine Bioproducts CRC,” Assoc Prof Macleod said.

“Tasmania will benefit from the considerable economic and job creation opportunities the MB-CRC will create – there are opportunities here for small and large producers.

“Seaweed development features strongly in the MB-CRC and Tasmania has some really innovative industry players in this space already. We’re looking forward to working with them to really make a difference.”

Backed by the Government of South Australia and the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industry and Regions SA (PIRSA), the new CRC will have its headquarters at Flinders University at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide.

“Australia has the world’s third-largest marine area with much of its rich and diverse marine bioproducts yet to be explored and developed for new and improved health, nutrition, aquaculture, agriculture and biomaterial applications,” MB-CRC bid lead and research director Flinders University, Professor Wei Zhang said.

“The global marine biotech industry is rapidly expanding, with an estimated value of more than $176 billion – and we are particularly excited because this program will enable our researchers to build the marine bioproducts industry with a focus on jobs growth and sustainability.”

GROWING INNOVATION, COLLABORATION AND EARLY ADOPTION…

“As the Australian marine bioproducts industry  heads for $1 billion turnover a year by 2030, this new national industry-driven research and development collaboration platform is set to position Australia at the cutting-edge of this burgeoning industry,” MB-CRC chair Mr John Gunn said.

The MB-CRC consortium brings together a broad cross-section of industry, including some of Australia’s major agri-businesses, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and two global chemical industry giants, with some of the country’s leading scientists and researchers.

The Australian Government’s CRC Program supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community. The focus is on research and development that will have commercial uses. The program aims to:

  • improve competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries, especially where Australia is competitive and in government priority areas
  • use high-quality research to solve industry-identified problems, and
  • encourage and help SMEs to take part in collaborative research.

Dr Steve Meller, CEO and founder of Industry partner CH4 Global said his organisation believes the MB-CRC will lead to a transformational change in the way we farm the oceans.

“It will be the disruptive hot house that grows innovation, early adoption and collaboration between industry partners,” Dr Meller said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Flinders University, Professor Robert Saint, said Flinders University is delighted to be leading this major national Cooperative Research Centre enterprise with a truly global scope.

“Our world-class scientific expertise in marine science, aquaculture and biotechnology – in league with 12 research, 49 industry and other partners here and abroad – forms a solid launching pad for this exciting new venture.

“We look forward to taking many new researchers on board with us on this new journey.”


Images:

  • Top right: Marine Bioproducts (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • Bottom: Collecting beach-cast seaweed at Beachport, South Australia (Photo: Dr Peng Su, Flinders University) 

Published 30 June 2021

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
June 30, 2021