Marine Biotechnology in Spain

From Coastal Wiki
Revision as of 18:06, 4 March 2013 by Angelm (talk | contribs) (Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives)
Jump to: navigation, search

Go back to: Home > Strategies, Policies and Programmes > European countries

Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

There is no specific national policy or strategy of Marine Biotechnology. Overarching science and technology policy is based on the Spanish Science Law of 1986 and described in the Spanish National Strategy for Science and Technology (ENCYT) managed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

  • The Spanish Science Spanish National Strategy for Science and Technology (ENCYT) covers the main principles and general objectives governing both nationwide and regional science and technology policies, for the period 2007-2015. [1]

The main instrument to implement the National Strategy is the National Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation Plan (2008-2011/+2012) (National R&D&I Plan ) which has a four-five year duration and it is executed based on annual Work Programmes. Although academic research is a major component of the National R&D&I Plan, specific actions are also included to support technological innovation.

The Plan sets up 4 main Strategic Areas:

  • Area 1: Development of Sienctific and Technological Knowledge and Capacities
  • Area 2: Promotion of Cooperation in RTD
  • Area 3: Sectoral Development and Technological Innovation
  • Area 4: Strategic Actions

In addition the Plan also sets up 6 Instrumental Action Lines to implement these Strategic Areas which are develop through different Programmes and a number of Subprogrammes. One of the Strategic Actions is focussed on Biotechnology, though no specific reference is made to marine biotechnology in it. As to the Programmes and Subprogrammes of the National R&D&I Plan, none of them make reference to marine research but the Plan is open to this research community since it follows a bottom-up approach. Successful marine projects/initiatives are supported through different programmes and subprogrames of the National R&D&I Plan, including the Strategic Area on Biotechnology.

  • The National Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation Plan (National R&D&I Plan) [2] [3]

Recognising the importance of R&D&i to sustaining and boosting growth, productivity and society’s wellbeing, and to bring Spain into line with the more developed countries of the European Union in terms of Research and Development, the Government drew up a new Strategy called the INGENIO 2010 Programme whilst keeping up all the existing efforts in the area of R&D&I. In the implementation of this strategy the necessary territorial coordination has been promoted so as to avoid wasting resources, increase the effectiveness of public R&D&i investment and reduce the existing territorial imbalances. The INGENIO 2010 Programme includes the Programmes CONSOLIDER, CENIT and the Plans AVANZA and EUROINGENIO.

  • INGENIO 2010 Programme [4]

Research funding schemes and programmes

  • The National R&D&I Plan is structured in Actions Lines, Programmes and sub-programmes. In addition it has got 5 Strategic Areas with relevance for Marine Biotechnology activities. These Strategic Actions are Health, Biotechnology, Energy and Climate Change, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and New Materials and New Industrial Processes.

As indicated above, there is not a specific sub-programme or priority on marine sciences within the National R&D&i Plan, nevertheless most of the programmes and subprogrammes of the National R&D&I Plan follow a bottom up approach and may fund research in marine biotechnology. Fundamental Research on Biotechnology, including marine biotechnology, is mainly funded through different Programmes and sub-programmes of the National Plan for Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation, including the National Programme on Fundamental Research (the programme CONSOLIDER, the sub-programme of non-oriented research, and the subprogramme TRACE of oriented research of knowledge transfer to industry ) In addition industry-leaded or oriented research projects on Biotechnology may be funded through different programmes including the National Programme on Applied Research (i.e. the Sub-programme of Applied Industrial Research funded by MINETUR and Sub programme.of Colaborative Projects for Applied Research, Sub-Programme of Applied Research in Technology Centres funded by MINECO), National Programme on Public-Private Cooperation (i.e. the Sub-programme in Support of Singular Strategic Projects and the Sub-Programme INNPACTO), the National Programme for Experimental Development (i.e. Sub-Programme of RTD projects, Subprogramme of industrial experimental development projects) and the Specific Programme for Private-Public Cooperation of RTDI on Apply genomics and Biotechnology. The CENIT Programme was also an important that aimed at financing industry leaded projects.

Moreover MINECO through the National R&D&I Plan also provides funding for research in biotechnologies, including marine biotechnology, through programmes aimed at predoctoral and graduate researchers as well as for tenured scientists (Ramón y Cajal, Juan de la Cierva Sub-Programmes), as well as funding for specific programmes to facilitate mobility of researchers. In addition the Sub-Programme Torres Quevedo aims at contracting PhD to work for industries and SMEs, technology centres and science parks.

Successful marine projects/initiatives that are supported by the different Programmes and sub-Programmes of the National R&D&i Plan are generally managed within a specific management area and by a team devoted to marine sciences. The Biotechnology Strategic Action can fund also marine biotechnology projects related with the marine environment. The commitments to INGENIO 2010 Programme (see above) also include a number of specific support programmes which follow up a bottom up approach and are open to Marine Biotechnology such as the CENIT Programme and the CONSOLIDER Programme.

  • The CONSOLIDER Programme aims to support outstanding research groups in all the fields of science and technology to increase the average size of research groups, raise the levels of funding available to the best lines of research, eliminate excessive fragmentation in research and promote the participation of public research centres in the European Framework Programme. It has increased cooperation between researchers with regard to projects run by leading consortiums and unique installations, mobilising a total of 2,000 million euros. About €10M funding has gone to marine and aquaculture projects (not limited to marine biotechnology) up to the end of 2011. The CONSOLIDER Programme is funded through a sub-programme of the National R&D&I Plan
  • The CENIT Programme was funded by CDTI and aimed to finance major lines of industrial research by means of public-private collaboration using a mechanism of 50% co-financing by the private sector. This Programmed ended up in 2010.

At regional level, the different regions have their own RTD programs which are also bottom up and are therefore opened to marine research and marine biotechnology. Nevertheless in some regions, like Galicia, the Regional RTD Plan include a priority line on Marine Research and Development. In others Regions, like Cataluña or the Basque Country, the term “marine” is echoed in some of the objectives of those Plan.

In the field of aquaculture JACUMAR (The Advisory Board on Marine Cultures) which depends on the Ministry of Agriculture , Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) in agreement with Regions is responsible for setting up multiannual RTDI plans on aquaculture, which may include biotechnology issues related to this field. These projects are funded by JACUMAR.[5]

A database which may contain relevant funded projects is available at [6], but it does not cover all relevant projects and may not be fully up to date. The MarineERA projects database [7] also contains recent information on marine research projects.

Research priorities for marine biotechnology research

Strategic Action for Biotechnology[8]

Strategic documents

A good overview of the Spanish science policy landscape in English, including downloadable strategic documents is available from the MINECO website[1]

Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

  • Spain has a National Programme for Science and Technology Infrastructures to implement priorities of its National R&D&I Plan. The Programme for Science and Technology Infrastructures which aim is to improve the existing RTD infrastructures, their maintenance and optimize their use. The Programme also foresee the design, building, maintenance, operation and upgrade of ICTS (Unique Scientific and Technological Infrastructures) and GIC (Large Scientific Infrastructures) with a national and EU dimension. Contribute to the development of the Regions to promote the territorial cohesion.[1]
  • In 2012, Spain operates 9 local/coastal vessels from 12m to 30,46 m; 6 regional vessels from 36,5m to 53m; and 4 global vessels from 66,7m to 82,5m registered at the European Research Vessels Infobase [9].
  • In 2012, Spain maintains about 7 large marine research equipments registered in the European large Exchangeable instruments database [9].
  • Marine research activities are also supported by the Secretary of State for Research through two Research Performing Organisations, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO), that generate more than 50% of the scientific output in the marine sciences in the country.[10] [11]
  • Within the framework of the INGENIO 2010 Programme, the ICTS (Unique Scientific and Technological Infrastructures) are configured as instruments for scientific and technological development. Currently there are 7 Marine ICTS in Spain, including the 3 Research Vessels (RV Cornide de Saavedra, RV Sarmiento de Gamboa, RV Hespérides, 2 Antarctic Basis and 2 ICTS still in the construction phase (PLOCAN and SOCIB). In addition these there are 3 which still are in their design phase (OOCMur, UTO and , MAREAS). The network of ICTS is coordinated by IEO [12]
  • Key aquaculture experimental and research facilities in Spain include
  • 2 Experimental Research Facilities (IFAPA)
  • Aquaculture Pilot Plant (Centro tecnologico Gallego de Acuicultura CETGA)
  • 5 Experimental Research Facilities and Specialised Laboratories (Instituto Español de Oceanografía IEO)
  • An inland infrastructure for bluefin tuna aquaculture research is being built by IEO. It consists of 4 large capacity inland tanks (7000 m3) for experimental research on bluefin tuna. The project started at the end of 2011 and it is under development.
  • Experimental Research Facilities and Specialised Laboratories (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas CSIC)
  • Experimental Research Facilities (Instituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas ICCM)
  • Experimental Sea based facility (Instituto Gallego de Formación en Acuicultura. Xunta de Galicia IGFA)
  • Experimental Facilities (Instituto Murciano de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario y Alimentario IMIDA)
  • Experimental Research Facilities (Instituto de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria-IRTA)
  • Experimental Research Facilities (Centro de Investigaciones Marinas -CIMA)

Major initiatives

The Marine Biotechnology Centre of the ULPGC (CBM) is a research centreof the ULPGC and comprises the Applied Algology (GAA) and the Biological Oceanography (GOB) research groups, which work closely with researchers in other groups in Spain and abroad. This cooperation between the two research groups is currently focused on developing new lines of work that apply the knowledge and techniques developed in eco-physiological and biotechnical studies to marine producers and vegetation. The Spanish Bank of Algae (BEA-Banco Español de Algas) is a service of the Marine Biotechnology Center (CBM-Centro de Biotecnología Marina) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), which objectives are the isolation, identification, characterization, conservation and provisioning of microalgae and cyanobacteria. Spanish Biomass Technology Platform One the priorities of the Strategic Plan of this platform is the production of biofuel from microalgae. . PTEPA is the Spanish Platform for Fisheries and Aquaculture Research. This platform has develop a SRA Genoma Spain is a government-supported public foundation devoted to promoting technology development, knowledge transfer and innovative practices, chiefly in the biotechnology sector.

More relevant projects: - AQUAGENOMICS (2008-2013) is a project funded (€6M) under the CONSOLIDER Programme and probably the only current Spanish project dealing specifically with marine biotechnology. The project aims to improve aquaculture production through the use of biotechnological tools. It is composed of 18 project partners coordinated by Inmunología IIM CSIC. - CENIT Acuisost (2007–2011) is a project funded under the CENIT Programme with a budget €22M to develop and evaluate raw materials, technologies and processes in marine aquaculture comprising items such as nutrition, biosafety and commerciasation of product with added value, food security and revalorization of subproducts that improves the sustainability. It is composed of 22 Companies and 17 research groups lead by Grupo Dibaq and coordinated by Esmedagro.

Other partly relevant CENIT project include: - CENIT Nanofarma: €15M (2006-2009) - - CENIT Oncológica: €17M (2009-2012) - - CENIT BIOSOS: €13,6M (2009-2012) biorefinery/algae - - CENIT VIDA: €19M (2010- 2013) energy and algae - - CENIT PILBE: €10,7M (2006-2009) biodiesel and algae -


Industry: Spain is host to Pharmamar, one of the most successful companies dedicated specifically to marine biotechnology in the world ( Pharmamar is specialised in development of antitumor drugs of marine origin. AlgaEnergy is a technology-based company specialising in the field of microalgae biotechnology which, with substantial R&D programmes costing millions of Euros (both public and in-house funding), is managed by a team of entrepreneurs and scientists with solid financial backing and extensive experience within this field. CEAMSA, , manufactures and supplies a comprehensive range of high quality carrageenan and pectin products to the global food industry. BioFuel Systems. A company specialized in the production of biofuel from marine microalgae. ANFACO-CECOPESCA it is a large company that conducts research in a number of fields related with marine biotechnologies and their use in aquaculture and seafood processing, Seaweed Canarias Seaweed Canarias creates and provides integral sustainable high technology solutions through the industrial use of active principles present in algae. Seaweed Canarias has its own patents and develop highly innovative uses in fields as diverse as agriculture, cosmetics and human and animal nutrition. AQUASOLUTIONS BIOTECH it is a technology company based that offers a wide range of services in RTD to the aquaculture sector, they conduct RTD on genetics, molecular biology, microbilogy, physionlogy, nutrition and zootechnology.



This draft country profile is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not aim nor claim to be complete or final, but should be considered as a dynamic and living information resource that will be elaborated, updated and improved as more information becomes available, including further inputs from experts and stakeholders.