The oceans represent a mine of innovations and opportunities for biotechnologies: blue biotechnologies. Certain marine organisms, such as algae and microalgae, essentially possess astonishing properties which, as basic materials, will produce services and goods. They are precious resources with infinite applications, opening up many prospects for medical research, cosmetics or even bioenergy. There are many reasons why the University of La Rochelle is creating the Master 2 "Applied Blue Biotechnology" for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Pn the extraction of molecules from its biodiversity, the sea is a formidable reservoir that is conducive to providing mankind with multiple components for medical, cosmetic, nutritional and even energy purposes on a long-term basis: marine and environmental biotechnologies or, more commonly known in France as blue biotechnologies.
Rather little known, this field of biotechnology has much to offer, however, in terms of research prospects, industrial opportunities and economic development.
They can be used in cosmetology (creams, facial care, thalassotherapy), the food industry (food supplements, fertilizers derived from the treatment of microalgae), energy (second- and third-generation biofuels) or pharmacology.
Over the past decade or so, the marine biotechnology market is growing by 10 % per year. The head of the Biotechnology and Marine Resources Department at the Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) explained as early as 2011 that "Five major sectors are concerned: health, food - particularly by optimising aquaculture techniques -, second and especially third-generation biofuels based on microalgae, the environment and industry, in processes combining chemistry and biocatalysis. Other activities such as cosmetics must be added. »
Although for the moment most French projects in the sector are still in the R&D or testing phases, the growing interest of the public authorities in blue biotechnology may herald a major development in this field in the years to come.
With more than 75 % of its borders bordering the seas and the ocean (i.e. nearly 13,000 kilometers of coastline in all, including overseas territories), France clearly has a role to play in the field of blue biotechnologies. A few research centres exist (mainly in Brittany and the PACA region), around which clusters of companies specialising in this sector have been set up.
France is positioning itself as the European leader in macroalgae biorefineries with, in particular, the launch on 24 January 2017 of the European Horizon 2020 project". GENIALG, GENetic diversity exploitation for Innovative macro-ALGal biorefinery "...at the Roscoff Biological Station... This project aims to develop the development of large seaweed cultures in biorefineries, to strengthen the competitiveness of the exploitation sectors and to promote sustainable production methods.
However, in comparison with the United States (especially California), China, Germany or the United Kingdom, our country is lagging behind. Biotechnology students are therefore well advised to take an interest in the possibilities offered by maritime resources. The sector is still in its infancy and the projects carried out, for example, by IFREMER, around cosmetology (this industry being one of the symbols of France internationally) or biofuels (the possible annual production of algae-based oils exceeding the sum of those of palm, sunflower, soya and corn on a global scale), give it a bright future.
(Source: blog supbiotech.fr)
Focus on applied research in La Rochelle
The University of La Rochelle is extending a new training offer for the next academic year 2017-2018: The Master 2 "Applied Blue Biotechnology". Currently in the planning stage, it will be offered at the Faculty of Science and Technology.
This training creation project won the "Blue Careers" call for projects launched by the European Commission's Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The idea is to support European projects involved in the development of skills and knowledge related to the blue economy. The project is supported up to 80% (666 000€) of the total budget.
The New Aquitaine Region, which triggered the launch of the project, is also playing a key role in its construction, notably with the participation of the Innovation working group from the Atlantic Arc Commission.
The objective of this Master 2 "Applied Blue Biotechnology" Master's degree is the study and use of marine resources to develop new products or components for medical, cosmetic, nutritional or even energy purposes. The project aims to create a Master 2 in "Applied Blue Biotechnology: blue molecules for health and food". It will be designed and developed in close cooperation with SMEs and companies in the blue biotechnology sector and may include a learning component. The aim is also to offer training that best meets the expectations and needs of companies.
This diploma in English is intended for everyone: both students (classic or work-study course) and employees wishing to enroll in a continuing education program. Stéphanie Bordenave-Juchereau, in charge of the master's degree, says it will be open to 12 students mainly from the four European countries participating in the programme (Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and France).
A European as well as a local project: Various European universities are joining forces with companies to bring this training to life: the Catholic University of Valencia and Pharma Mar (Spain), the University of Stirling and Xanthella (United Kingdom) and the Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental and Marinnova (Portugal). The real added value is that each of these universities works hand in hand with local industrial partners to respond to the problems encountered. These industrial partners will participate in the courses provided by the training.
Concerning the University of La Rochelle, the Department of Biotechnologies, the Maison de la Réussite et de l'Insertion Professionnelle and the Pôle Alternance, have joined forces with the start-up company from La Rochelle. Valbiotisa biotech company. The project also relies on the Atlantic Arc Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, which is responsible for promoting and communicating the project.