Marine Biotechnology in Portugal

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UPDATED August 2016

Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

Portugal has a National strategy for the Sea (ENM) for the period 2013-2012 (ENM_PT)[1] This strategy is a public policy instrument that presents a new development model for the ocean and offshores (blue growth) that points to a long-term, intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth path, that intends to prepare Portugal to tackle the challenges brought by the growth, promotion and competitiveness of the Sea Economy, at both European and International levels. This strategy lists a series of concrete measures and actions and one of the main intervention domains deals with the sustainable exploitation of living resources where it is expected that biotechnology will be a major instrument, in the sea food processing including fisheries and aquaculture, in the valorization of biomass and rest raw materials, leading to an impact in numerous industrial applications, such as food and feed, pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, and others.

Recently “The Research & Innovation smart specialization strategy” (2014) (ENEI_PT)[2], written by FCT following the European Cohesion fund requirement, as a condition to be able to receive the EU structural 2014-2020 grants, reinforces these intentions, and identifies the Sea economy as one of the main priorities for Portugal.

Direcção geral da política do mar (DGPM)[3]

DGPM mission is to develop, evaluate and update the National Strategy for the Sea, to elaborate, and propose political measures, to plan and regulate the maritime space in his different uses and activities, to follow-up and participate in the Maritime policy integrated in the EU and promote the national and international cooperation in maritime affairs.

COTEC Portugal [4] a business association for innovation has the mission to «promote the competitiveness of companies established in Portugal. COTEC led the elaboration of a document “Blue growth for Portugal” that analysis in detail the current state and perspectives for the six main maritime areas: 1.Food/feed from marine resources, 2.Offshore energy, 3.Equipment, repair and shipbuilding, 4. Leisure, tourism and recreation, 5.New uses and bioresources from the sea, 6. Ports and Maritime transport (see: Blue growth for Portugal)

Research funding schemes and programmes

EU structural 2014-2020 grants

Out of the 15 EU grant Funding channels, one will be exclusively devoted to the Sea[5], with a focus on the promotion of competitive fisheries, aquaculture, aiming to an increase in commercialization and job creation. Additionally, funding for marine Biotechnology will be transversal to many other regional and thematic funding programmes, currently or soon to open, under Portugal 2020 (for example, COMPETE 2020[6], other regional programmes including the islands Azores and Madeira or bilateral funding).[7]

Research Funding in Portugal

The funding of the Portuguese research system is mainly conducted under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Science, namely through its Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). FCT is funding research via an annual non-thematic research programme which funds all research areas through competitive calls for proposals. The total funding budget for FCT is about 500 M EUR per year, with about € 0.5 - 1 M EUR being spent on marine biotechnology. FCT has signed with ANR (France) a collaboration protocol, with emphasis on Oceanology cooperation. However, this protocol has not been implemented yet.[8]

Other Research Funding Programmes

  • Azores Marine Research Specific Programme managed by Direcção Regional da Ciência, Tecnologia e Comunicações [9]
  • ON2 - North Portugal Regional Operational Programme 2007/2013 with two strategic priorities with special relevance to S&T: “Competitiveness, Innovation and Knowledge” and “Economic Valorisation of Specific Resources” with a specific objective related with Economic development of new uses for the sea and a significant investment in marine S&T infrastructures managed by a political management body [10]
  • Centro de C&T da Madeira - CITMA (language: Portuguese)
  • Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation - FCG
  • Fundação Oriente
  • General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Azores (language: Portuguese)
  • Luso-American Foundation - FLAD
  • Regional Directorate for Science and Technology - DRCT (language: Portuguese)

Private funding mechanisms

There is no specific private funding exclusive to Marine Biotechnology, however Portugal has a venture capital market duly established that is capable of financing companies that bet on emerging sectors such as marine Biotechnology. The type of funds available include: seed, start-up, expansion and internationalization, tourism, sector specific and regional. Portugal Ventures[11] is a Venture Capital Company, manages several Venture Capital & Private Equity funds with a total capital of around € 600 million. Its portfolio is made up of approximately 180 companies from a number of different industries. The aim is to improve the competitiveness of the Portuguese economy by investing in cutting edge industries and technologies, as well as in companies geared toward global markets.

Other entrepreneurship/innovation associations

  • Associação Portuguesa de Business Angels[12]
  • Associação Portuguesa de Capital de Risco e de Desenvolvimento[13]
  • Agency for Innovation[14]
  • Agency for Innovation and Competitiveness (IAPMEI)[15]

Forum / Clusters

Forum Empresarial da Economia do Mar (FEM)

Entrepreneurial Forum for the Economy of the Sea

The Business Forum of the Economy of the Sea[16], is a business association: "Sea Economic Hypercluster", with the following objectives: a) contribute to the taking of the maritime economy as a national goal, in order to affirm Portugal as relevant maritime actor at the global level; b) contribute to the sustainable development of sea and appreciate its importance as a major economic resources, projecting it as the great engine of economic development of the country; c ) promote a common and integrated strategy of the activities related to the maritime economy, and create the conditions to promote good business practices, and cooperation between national strategic actors for the development of the Portuguese economy and the production of collective wealth in all business sectors related to the maritime economy. FEM launches a monthly newsletter.[17]

Oceano XXI – Cluster do conhecimento da Economia do Mar

Association for the Knowledge and Economy of the Sea Oceano XXI [18] is a private non-profit corporate body, created in 2009 by the initiative of two regional associations IDCEM (Instituto para o Desenvolvimento do Conhecimento e Economia do Mar) and AFM (Associação Fórum Mar Centro). The Association has more than 60 members, from different sectors of activity of the Sea Economy, between companies and business associations, R&D Centres, higher education institutions, local authorities and other associative organizations. Oceano XXI mission: To foster the "Sea Knowledge and Economy Cluster" through the intersection of knowledge and support for innovation, internationalization and entrepreneurship contributing in sustainability conditions for the country's competitiveness.

BlueBio Alliance

The BlueBio Alliance is a networking initiative that aims to accelerate the development of the whole value chain connected to Marine Biotechnology in Portugal including all relevant stakeholders. The Bluebio alliance wants to act in collaboration with other relevant and broader scope initiatives such as Oceano XXI.

Law firms

specialized in maritime affairs

  • Vieira de Almeida & Associados(VdA)[19]

VdA strives to deepen Portugal's knowledge and know-how on the Economy of the Sea and also to be able to mobilize other "maritime nations" of the world. VdA has created a specific multidisciplinary team providing specialised legal services in a number of matters of this innovative economy, such as: Business investment projects,Business plan structuring, Corporate and contractual relationships, Structuring supply and distribution models , Mergers, acquisitions, Regulatory and Public Procurement, Instruments of national maritime space planning, Conflicts between uses and activities developed in national maritime space, Shared uses of national maritime space, Privative uses of national maritime space (concessions, licences and authorizations), Environmental issues, Financing activities in the national maritime space, Intellectual property rights.

  • Miranda Correia Amendoeira & Associadas[20]

Portals / Platforms

  • Portal do Mar [21]and Portal Maroceano[22] are portals that dedicate to constantly update and release maritime related news and online services.
  • Plataforma Tecnologia do Mar de aveiro(PTUA)[23]
This platform intends to promote collaborations between university and SMEs, with the intention to facilitate technology transfer, leading to an increase in business competitiveness.

Research priorities for marine biotechnology research


Strategic documents


Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

  • Portugal operates eight local/coastal vessels ranging from 11m to 31,40m (Águas Vivas, Arquipelago, Diplodus, NRP "Andromeda", NRP "Auriga", Puntazzo, Tellina and Ziphius); one regional vessels of 47,50m (Noruega); and two global vessels of 68,20m and 68,50m (NRP "Almirante Gago Coutinho" and NRP "D. Carlos I") registered in the European Research Vessels Infobase [24].
  • Portugal maintains about 25 large marine research equipments registered in the European large Exchangeable instruments database [25].
  • Key aquaculture experimental and research facilities in Portugal include
  • Experimental Research Facilities CIIMAR Portugal Land based facilities
  • Specialised Laboratories IPIMAR Portugal
  • Marine aquaculture station of Ramalhete University of Algarve Portugal
  • Any other research facilities of relevance to Marine Biotech
  • Algarve Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve
  • Centre of IMAR at Department of Oceanography and Fisheries at the University of the Azores

(For a complete description of the Portuguese Marine research infrastructures see: [1]

Research Centres / Capabilities

Government Laboratories:

Department of Marine Geology - INETI (language: Portuguese)

Fisheries and Sea Research Institute - IPIMAR (language: Portuguese)

Hydrographic Institute - IH (language: Portuguese)

National Laboratory of Civil Engineering - LNEC

Meteorological Institute

Associated Laboratories:

Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies - CESAM

Centre of Marine and Environmental Research - CIMAR

Institute for Systems and Robotics - IS

R&D Units In Portugal:

Biogeochemistry Group - IMAR

Centre for the Study of Hydrosystems - CEHIDRO

Centre for Ecological Modelling - IMAR

Centre of Marine Environment and Technology - MARETEC

Centre of Marine Sciences of Algarve - CCMAR (language: Portuguese)

Centro de Recursos Minerais, Mineralogia e Cristalografia - CREMINER

Centro de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental da Universidade do Algarve

Department of Oceanography and Fisheries of the University of Azores - DOP

Eco-Ethology Research Unit

Guia Marine Laboratory of Lisbon University - IMAR

Interdisciplinary Centre of Coimbra - IMAR

Institute of Marine Research - IMAR Institute of Oceanography - IO

Wave Energy Centre

Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory - Porto University

Collaboration with European initiatives

  • FCT is partner in the following European initiatives

Major observations, trends and future prospects

There is an industry forum for marine biotechnology. However, there is no specific program for funding marine biotechnology, hence marine biotechnology is fragmented and needs national cooperation.



This country profile is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not 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. The information on this page is based on information initially compiled by the CSA MarineBiotech Project (2011-2013) and updated by the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET (2013-2017).