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A broader overview of relevant policies can be found on the DG

Environment website.

Maximising potential

To return to blue biotech, the Commission’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

online magazine’s March 2015 edition revealed that ‘some of the EU’s

best innovators and researchers are working away to explore the largely

unexplored biodiversity of the sea and design ways in which to maximise

their economic and scientific potential.

‘In Wales [UK], a company is developing a process to convert jellyfish

into medical-grade collagen for bone and wound treatment. Elsewhere,

Unilever is experimenting with an environmentally friendly alternative to

bleach in the form of seaweed that prevents bacteria from adhering to

dirty surfaces. And in Spain, a pharmaceutical company has developed

Yondelis, an anti-viral drug, from a marine creature called a tunicate.

‘Despite these and other advances, only a tiny percentage of the

estimated one million marine organisms and one billion marine

microbes have been tested. In order to explore and develop the vast

potential of the seas, the European Union has committed to joining

up the different work across the EU to help stimulate growth and

facilitate access to competitive niche markets whilst avoiding risks to

the marine environment.

‘Blue biotechnology is one of five sectors (the others are blue energy;

aquaculture; maritime, coastal and cruise tourism; and marine mineral

resources) that the EU believes can deliver sustainable growth and jobs

in the blue economy.’

Algae

Microalgae and cyanobacteria have been shown to have huge potential

– their ability to convert sunlight into biomass, their capacity to grow in

saline or hypersaline environments, and their ability to metabolise

industrial and domestic waste (including CO

2

and wastewater) – making

them attractive targets for industry. Cyanobacterial hydrogen has also

been considered a very promising source of alternative energy and has

now been made commercially available.

As the European Algae Biomass Association argues, algae and aquatic

biomass have the potential to contribute to outstanding progress towards

Enabling Technologies (KET) and maritime

economic sectors.

The European Strategy for Marine and Maritime

Research prioritises marine biodiversity and

biotechnology research and has recognised its

potential to contribute to new knowledge on

which to base high value products and

processes, as well as to increase marine

resources and biodiversity understanding. More

detailed information is provided on the DG

Maritime Affairs website. Advances in marine

biotechnology research will also contribute to

more effectively protecting the marine

environment across Europe.

Industrial biotech

Industrial biotechnology – novel high added-

value bioproducts and bioprocesses – is also

an important area, with, the Commission states,

research priorities being strongly driven by

policies on economic and environmental

sustainability and competitiveness.

Industrial biotechnology has been identified as

one of five KETs for the EU in the context of the

policy initiative on ‘Preparing for our future:

Developing a common strategy for Key Enabling

Technologies in the EU’.

In terms of competitiveness, industrial

biotechnology is a KET for the implementation

of the lead markets on bio-based products

and renewable energy identified under the

Lead Market Initiative for Europe. A more

detailed overview of relevant innovation

policies can be found on the DG Enterprise

and Industry website.

Industrial biotechnology will also contribute

to finding new and better ways of producing

and consuming energy in line with the goals

of the plan on investing in the development

of low carbon technologies (SET-Plan). Some

further information can be found on the DG

Energy website.

Furthermore, the Commission’s webpages on

the bioeconomy also argue that industrial

biotechnology offers the possibility to green

the chemical industry by substituting cleaner

bio-processes for energy and resource-

intensive and polluting chemical processes,

thus contributing to the goals of the

Communication on a Resource Efficient

Europe, for example with regard to the waste

legislation and the Water Initiative, but also to

the objectives of the regulatory framework on

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and

Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH).

www.horizon2020projects.com

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

I S S U E S E V E N

119

B I O T E C H N O L O G Y F O R H E A L T H

A process to convert

jellyfish into medical-

grade collagen for

bone and wound

treatment is being

developed by a

company in Wales