Fórum Oceano promoted EBB project during the Business2Sea event

The 8th edition of Business2Sea – Sea Forum was organised by Fórum Oceano, the Portuguese Maritime Cluster, in collaboration with CETMAR Foundation, from 14th to 16th of November 2018. The event took place in Oporto, under the main topic “2030 Sea Challenges”, gathering around 600 stakeholders from 10 European and non-European countries.

Business2Sea is an international event dedicated to the development of projects and business, in the different sectors of the Economy of the Sea. The initiative comprised a series of thematic workshops and conferences, pitching sessions, B2B meetings and an exhibition area.

In its own stand, Fórum Oceano promoted the ongoing projects in which it is involved, namely the EBB project, giving some key information on EBB’s aims and objectives.

5th Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference

The annual Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference is the central hub for stakeholders of the Atlantic Strategy to meet, seek ways of cooperation, share information and identify funding and financial opportunities and partnerships for their projects and business. It offers a great transnational publicity opportunity to deliver the Atlantic Action Plan key messages and further promote awareness of its achievements.

The 5th edition of the conference was held in Vigo, Spain, on October 23-24, 2018. The conference focus was on actions to boost youth employment in the maritime domain and it gathered political leaders, maritime clusters, enterprises, academic institutions, funding donors and investors from all across the Atlantic seaboard. More specifically, this year’s conference focused on how to pursue a career in the maritime sector, how to obtain the necessary skills and embrace innovation without negatively affecting employment in the Atlantic area, while at the same time emphasising present opportunities for project development relevant to the Atlantic strategy and to the objectives of the Atlantic Action Plan.

During the conference, the Atlantic Project Awards winners were announced. The EBB project was the winner in the “Atlantic Marine and Coastal Environment” Category. These Awards are designed to honour outstanding success stories, achieved by projects in the geographical area covered by the Atlantic Strategy that showcase relevance to the implementation of the Atlantic Action Plan. They promote individual winners but at the same time highlight the incorporation and scaling up of best practices at regional, national, European and international level.

Agenda of the event.

EBB participation in the Sea Tech Week 2018

The Sea Tech Week is an international event dedicated to marine sciences and technology, happening every two years in Brest. This year, Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and EMBRC-Fr have come together to work on the organisation of a session dedicated to the access to marine biological resources so-called “Bioresources: unlocking and accessing the potential of the marine environment”, on Tuesday October 9th 2018.

Marine bioresources are at the heart of economic activities in the maritime regions, providing the food we eat, the air we breathe, and to an increasing extent new products and a new frontier to explore in terms of biotechnological advances. Brittany and the surrounding regions have a wealth of expertise and projects valorising biological resources from the sea and continue to drive and innovate the biotech sector. This one-day session gave a flavour of what Brittany has to offer of activities related to marine bioresources in public-private partnerships, industrial R&D, and fundamental research, and how to access the marine ecosystems, its biological resources and related expertise through the international network of research infrastructures present in Brittany

After a welcome speech by Justine Pittera (PMBA) and Nicolas Pade, the session was organized around four major themes:

– Mapping of innovation based on marine biological resources in Brittany and Pays de Loire: emphasis on the main actors (academic and private), trends in the marine bioresources used, etc.
– Biodiversity observation and trends in biotechnology
– Research infrastructures : advanced tools to support fundamental and applied research in marine biology
– How can RI have a role to play in the synergies between fundamental and applied research in order to reinforce the relationship and foster innovation ? This discussion took place under a round table format.

During the third slot dedicated to RIs, Nicolas Pade presented EMBRC-ERIC with a special emphasis on the activity of EMBRC-Fr. UVigo has also participated in this session, with Cristina Secades as speaker, presenting the EBB project: “EMBRC Blue Biobank project: how to facilitate access to marine biological resources“; describing the scope and objectives of the project, presenting the expected outcomes for academic and private researchers.

Marine Biodiscovery Science Workshop

The Marine Institute hosted a one day workshop on Tuesday, September 4th that brought together Irish researchers broadly working in the field of marine biodiscovery in order to facilitate knowledge exchange, identify potential synergies and research links, and increase awareness of the national expertise, data and other resources. This with the view to maximise the potential of marine biodiscovery at a national level and to contribute at the same time to the development of this field of research in a European context.

The workshop was opened by Dr Peter Heffernan (Marine Institute, the State agency for the marine research in Ireland) and chaired by Dr Jeff Fisher (Marine Institute – morning session) and Prof. Olivier Thomas (NUI Galway – afternoon session). Both NUI Galway and the Marine Institute are in the forefront line to foster the marine biodiscovery in the country. Prof. Olivier Thomas also opened the scientific contributions to the workshop with an overview of the construction of a National Marine Biodiscovery Laboratory in Ireland, focusing in particular on the demonstration of its new database. Maria Vittoria Marra (NUI Galway) explained the importance of taxonomy in biodiscovery and in this context introduced the Irish participation to the EBB project. To do that, in the second part of her talk M. V. Marra presented first EMBRC and its mission and then the two EMBRC projects in which NUI Galway is involved, i.e. Assemble+ and EBB itself. Focusing on the latter, she also reported data from the EBB workshop in Brest (May 2018) on the level of awareness of the companies enquired about ABS and Nagoya protocol. The following speakers described some exciting contributions of the academic research in Ireland to marine biodiscovery focusing on the potential of macroalgae (Dr. Dagmar Stengel, NUI Galway), the  bioactive peptides of marine origin as functional foods (Prof. Dick Fitzgerald, U Limerick), the deep-sea genetic resources (Prof. Louise Allcock, NUI Galway) and the marine microorganisms (Prof. Alan Dobson, UC Cork). The industry point of view was introduced by David O’Neill with the experience of the Bantry Marine Research Station in county Cork. The workshop provided also the opportunity to benchmark the activities of the researchers  operating in Ireland through the invitation of European colleagues working in the development of marine biodiscovery, i.e. Prof. Jeanette H. Andersen (UIT Norway), Dr. Fernando Reyes (Fundacion Medina Spain) and Prof. Gudmundur O. Hreggvidsson (Matís Iceland).

The workshop was followed on the 5th fo September by a roundtable about two main topics: i) marine biodiscovery as contribution to the development of the Bioeconomy Center supported recently by the Irish government and the ii) plan of establishing a fit for purpose national biorepository for Ireland. Prof. Grace McCormack (NUI Galway) introduced to the discussion the EBB project highlighting its potential role in implementing the outcomes of the roundtable. The parties involved acknowledged the utility of the EBB actions for the accomplishments of the objects discussed and expressed an interest in being involved in the next steps of the project.

Click here for the agenda.

Workshop – Best practice guidelines for ABS

Colin Brownlee explaining the objectives of the workshop

Implementing best practice guidelines for Access and Benefit Sharing

17 May 2018, Plouzané, France by Heidi Tillin


The aims of this second one day workshop, that followed the previous more commercially focussed workshop, were to ensure all EBB project partners were familiar with Best Practice Guidelines and could discuss the process of implementing procedures within their institutions and the process for retrospective ABS compliance for existing genetic resources in collections. The workshop also identified differences in national legislation and discussed the ramifications of including collections in an EU registry. The event was attended by representatives from EBB project partner institutions, as well as Competent National Authorities on ABS from France and Spain and other experts.

The workshop opened with introductory presentations on BPGs and EU registry, by Anne-Emmanuelle (EMBRC-France) and Robert Yarlett (MBA), respectively. After the talks, the workshop followed a series of open discussions to decide on the next steps towards implementing BPGs and the practicalities and benefits of including the collections in an EU registry. There were also short discussions on retrospective ABS compliance and traceability of genetic resources.

Implications of collection registration with the EU registry that were discussed in the first workshop were further debated with input from the Competent National Authorities representatives. From a collection owner’s point of view, registration means that the collection assumes liability for ABS compliance. For an unregistered collection the user assumes liability for ABS compliance. A collection will therefore have less legal liability when making an unregistered collection available to a user and institutions may not wish to register all or parts of collections. Therefore a change in emphasis of WP5 from registration to aiding institutions/ organisations was discussed.

It was agreed by project partners’ that the key group focus should now be on collating BPGs into a handbook for EBB partners and implementing of those BPGs set out in the handbook  in order to meet the legal obligations as stated under the Nagoya protocol (2014). The MIRRI and CETAF guidelines are a good basis for developing Best Practice Guidelines as a deliverable and everyone should be aware of them. Most attendees agreed that a step by step, guide to implementing BPGs would be helpful and partners made various suggestions about the form and content of the handbook.

Feedback was collected at the end of the workshop to gather opinions from attendees. In brief, there was a general consensus that the workshop had aided partner’s understanding of implementing BPGs within their institutions and most believe these to be feasible to implement and a priority.

The workshop has achieved the objectives of increasing understanding around ABS compliance and liability for collections supplying genetic material. On the basis of workshop discussions, collection registration is no longer seen as a desirable aim for most collections (due to legal liability remaining with the collection). This may change based on future discussions and as implementation of legislation proceeds and the processes are further developed.

Following the workshop a position paper has been produced which summarises the opinions, benefits and challenges which institutions face under the new ABS legislation. This is available on Basecamp along with a brief report on the feedback received at the workshop from delegates. The MBA are very grateful for the input of all delegates and the hard work Justine Pittera (PMBA) put into organising the workshop. Ibon Cancio (UPV/EHU) and other project team members and the Competent National Authorities are also thanked for their efforts in ensuring the success of this workshop.

This one day workshop, open to academic and commercial users of marine genetic resources, lead then to a second day workshop (17th of may) for EBB partners, to discuss on practicalities regarding registration and best practice guidelines.

Workshop Brest – MGRs for commercial R&D | ABS legal framework

Audience during the discussion session with the CNAs

Practical steps for facilitating the use of marine biological resources for commercial R&D in the context of the new Access and Benefit Sharing legal framework (Nagoya protocol)

16 May 2018, Plouzané, France by Ibon Cancio


The workshop was organized in the context of the Interreg Atlantic Area EBB project and the activities of the European research infrastructure EMBRC-ERIC as a marine bioresource provider in Plouzané, Brest, Brittany. Brittany was selected for the logistic help and support provided by Le Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and the research and technology transfer landscape around marine biotechnology in the Region, with a wide spectrum of companies with interest, and concerns, on the ABS regulation framework. The aim of the workshop was to connect companies, marine culture collections/biobanks and ABS national contact points, and it was primed by a previously prepared/circulated on-line questionnaire on awareness of companies on ABS legislation. The knowledge of companies on the ABS framework was to be analyzed, together with the future needs on access to marine genetic resources (MGRs), bringing them to a higher level of awareness. The final outcome of the workshop should be a series of flagship use-cases proposed by the companies to be beta-tested for them by the EBB in the light of the ABS framework.

A total of 50 participants registered for the workshop who received the welcome of Philippe Monbet (Deputy Director of Le Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique) and of Justine Pittera and Ibon Cancio, as organisers of the workshop. After presenting the aims of the workshop, Florence Guillot (Access and communication officer of EMBRC-ERIC) presented the vision and mission of EMBRC-ERIC, and Antonio Villanueva (EBB project coordinator) presented the goals of the EBB project and EMBRC-ERIC culture collections and biobanks.

These introductory presentations lead to a first informative session by the ABS focal points, in relation to the 3 pillars of the ABS regulations: Access, Benefit Sharing and Compliance. The common umbrella of the ABS regulatory framework, with its implication on access to MGR was presented through teleconference by Alicja Kozlowska (Desk Officer for ABS and member of DG-ENV). The ABS access pillar was presented from the point of view of two countries with ABS legislation in place (France and Spain) and one without national legislation adopted (Portugal), through their respective national contact points (Florence Hervatin-Queney, Mª Carmen Fernández and Marco Rebelo).

The following speakers focused their presentation in practical issues from the point of view of culture collections (Philippe Desmeth from World Federation of Culture Collections), research and technology transfer projects (Dr Oonagh Mcmeel from Seascape Belgium and INMARE), companies (Bruno David from Pierre Fabre) and science parks (Pierre Colas from Blue Valley in Roscoff) working with MGRs. They addressed the needs of the different collectives regarding ABS regulations, pointing to issues as due diligence, benefit sharing through capacity building and the need for legal clearance for commercial users of MGRs. Finally, Ibon Cancio (EMBRC-Spain) presented the results of an EBB questionnaire to the industry working with MGRs in Portugal, Spain, France and UK to test their awareness and knowledge on ABS regulations. The questionnaire showed the high degree of unawareness and lack of knowledge in the private sector.

Following discussions with audience also revealed this lack of knowledge. At the level of the culture collections the suitability of seeking registration in the EU registry of collections was discussed, and not seen as very positive and feasible. No common pan-European collection can be registered as registration is asked, evaluated and granted at the national level. The approval of best practice guidelines in any case is evaluated at the EU commission level.
Discussion with companies did not result in use cases being presented (for lack of knowledge on the ABS regulation or due to the fact that IPR issues are problematic in this kind of open discussion), that EBB collections could test to learn by doing. This exercise should allow to introduce solutions concerning specifically the commercial use of MGRs in the best practice guidelines. It was decided that the collections will have to contact their usual commercial users, to know first-hand on their future needs regarding access to MGRs.

This one day workshop, open to academic and commercial users of marine genetic resources, lead then to a second day workshop (17th of may) for EBB partners, to discuss on practicalities regarding registration and best practice guidelines.

Kick-off meeting: launching of the EBB project

Kick-off meeting: launching of the EBB project

The kick-off meeting (KOM) of the EBB project was held at Vigo’s Port Authority premises, in Vigo (Spain), on 21st and 22nd of November 2017. The meeting participants included representatives from the University of Vigo (Spain), the University of the Basque Country (Spain), the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research (Portugal), the University of Algarve (Portugal), the Sorbonne University (formerly Pierre and Marie Curie University; France), the Marine Research Institute (Norway), Fórum Oceano (Portugal), Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique (France), Anfaco-Cecopesca (Spain), the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (United Kingdom), the Marine Biological Association (United Kingdom), and from the National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland).

The KOM was jointly opened by Jesús Souza Troncoso, director of the Marine Research Centre of the University of Vigo, and Carlos Botana, responsible of Sustainability at the Port of Vigo. "This is the first initiative to promote a long-term transnational coordination of marine biobanks," said Jesús Troncoso, explaining that, as a marine biologist, he usually has to collect samples around the world. "This is a difficult issue, as each country has its own regulations and protocols. Therefore, this initiative to implement a common strategy towards accessing marine biological resources is paramount" said Troncoso. On the other hand, Carlos Botana underlined the link between the objectives enclosed in the EBB project with those of Blue Growth - a strategic plan of the Port of Vigo: "For the Port of Vigo, we have identified 14 sectors linked to the blue economy, from biotechnology, fishing and tourism, to blue energy and sea highways" said Botana.

Jesús Troncoso (background, right of center) and Carlos Botana (background, left of center) opening the EBB kick-off meeting.  Source: Duvi

EBB partners at the project’s Kick-Off Meeting in Vigo


After the institutional opening, the first day started with a general presentation of the EBB project and its links to EMBRC-ERIC carried out by the project coordinator Antonio Villanueva (University of Vigo, Spain). Then, partners gave a short presentation introducing their respective institution and stream of work. The project manager Cristina Secades (UVigo) chaired the two-day meeting, during which the work plan for the coming months was discussed and established, and the main roles and responsibilities of the partners was agreed upon.

Press staff were at the venue to cover the event, and a press release was published by the University of Vigo Journal (Duvi), as well as in various other websites, including those of ECIMAT and BBMRI-ERIC.