A multi-million-dollar research program headquartered at Flinders University and led by Deakin University’s Chair in Biotechnology, Professor Colin Barrow, will aim to help transform Australia’s emerging marine bioproducts sector into a sustainable and globally competitive industry.
The new $270m Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre (MB-CRC), which is funded under Round 22 of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program, is expected to lead to improved nutrition, novel aquaculture feed ingredients, new cosmetic ingredients and biomaterials for medical applications, and to help curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Deakin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Alfred Deakin Professor Julie Owens, said the CRC would leverage Deakin’s strength in bioprocessing, aquaculture and marine research to work on projects such as transforming fish skin into collagen for wound healing, food or cosmetics, or harvesting omega-3 from micro-algae for food supplements, fish food and pharmaceutical products.
“The industry-led research will also contribute to a circular economy and more sustainable future – equally important priorities for the University,” Professor Owens continued.
“Led by Professor Barrow, Australia’s best minds will work together with industry to find effective and economical ways to use seaweed, algae and seafood industry by-products of enormous value that, until now, have gone to waste or been under-utilised.”
Professor Barrow said the CRC’s research program would take advantage of Australia’s tremendous organic bioprocessing opportunities to drive innovation across marine biomass production, advanced manufacturing and product development.
“The $1.3 billion aquaculture sector produces various by-products that can be converted to aquafeed (feed for farmed fish) or human nutritional products, Professor Barrow said.
“This project will take under-utilised marine materials, such as farmed seaweed and micro-algae, and produce new materials from Australian biodiversity.
“And the advanced manufacturing technology, once developed, can be applied to achieve similar benefits in other industries, such as agriculture, food and medicine.”
The MB-CRC, which will receive $59 million over 10 years in Federal Government funding and $209.5 million (cash and in-kind) from its 68 Australian and international participants, is expected to create over 500 jobs in Victoria, with a large proportion of those in Geelong, over the next 10 years.