A major national bid to establish a Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre, led by the Flinders University Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development (CMBD) working with a consortium of 79 partners, is one of only five bids to progress to the second and final assessment stage.
The MB-CRC bid has links with three growth centres and international connections with networks across Europe, Asia, North America and New Zealand with a total resources in excess of $270 million throughout its 10-year life.
Professor Wei Zhang, Director of the CMBD at Flinders University, who is the CEO and bid leader, says the MB-CRC aims to transform Australia’s emerging bioproducts sector into a globally competitive industry.
“By 2035 Australia’s vast oceans have potential to support a $1 billion industry producing bioproducts for human health, agricultural and industrial application. Global demand for these products is unmet and growing fast,” he says.
“To unlock this potential, the Marine Bioproducts CRC will develop new culture systems for seaweeds, microalgae and marine animals; develop advanced manufacturing technology to extract compounds from marine organisms; and produce high value products for export markets.”
The Marine Bioproducts CRC will support growth of a new generation of Australian marine bioindustries (with the first generation fisheries and the second generation aquaculture), focussing on producing high value bioproducts (nutraceuticals, Omega 3 oils, cosmetics, plant-based proteins, agrochemicals, bioplastics) derived from marine plants, microbes and animals.
The industry has emerged in response to huge growth in global demand for marine bioproducts and has the potential to be a multi-billion-dollar export earner within the next decade, with the scope to employ and train people throughout Australia’s coastal regions, including sea country traditional owners.
Professor Zhang says Australia’s distinctive bioproducts industry could mirror aquaculture which emerged in the late 1980s and grew steadily with significant investment and support from Research and Development Corporations and four CRCs to become a global leader in many technical areas – and a major export earner and regional employer.
The MB-CRC focus will be on industry and market-driven innovations to improve both the supply chain to deliver economies of scale and the value-chain to build competitive capacity for Australia to access high-value markets across the globe.