Marine Biotechnology in The Netherlands

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Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

There is currently no dedicated strategy or policy for Marine Biotechnology research in the Netherlands. The current research and innovation policy for the Netherlands is incorporated in the Ministry of Economics, Agriculture and Innovation document ‘To the top: Towards a new enterprise policy’, published in 2011. The special report ‘Quality in diversity: Strategic Agenda Higher Education, Research and Science’ was published in July 2011.

  • To the top: Towards a new enterprise policy[1]
  • Quality in diversity: Strategic Agenda Higher Education, Research and Science [2]
  • NIOZ Science Plan Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)[3]

Research funding schemes and programmes

  • The national Marine Research Strategy is implemented through the Dutch National Programme Sea and Coastal Research from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Division Earth and Life Sciences (ALW). A database of funded projects from NWO is available [4][5]
  • Other National Research Funding Programmes which have a significant marine research element include:
  • Deltares Healthy Water and Subsoil systems programme[6]
  • MARIN Maritime Innovation Programme[7]
  • Important biotechnology research programmes
  • IBOS - Integration of Biosynthesis and Organic Synthesis. This programme from NWOACTS runs from 2003 to 2010 with a budget of € 13,6 million (€ 2,27 million from NWO General Board € and 2,27 million from NWO Chemical Sciences), Ministry of Economic Affairs (€ 4,54 million), chemical and life sciences industry (€ 4,54 million). It aims at a change of strategy in synthetic chemistry by integrating state of the art organic chemistry and modern biochemistry and biotechnology. This will enable a new and sustainable future for more efficient industrial synthesis of ever more complex products, hand in hand with a drastic reduction of waste products.[8]
  • B-Basic - Bio-based Sustainable Industrial Chemistry. The B-Basic programme from NWOACTS runs from 2004 to 2010 with a total budget of € 50 million (basic subsidy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (€ 25 million), industrial B-Basic partners (€ 12 million) and participating universities and research institutes (€ 13 million). Research focuses on 4 multidisciplinary themes: bulk chemicals, fine chemicals, performance materials and novel feed stocks. In addition, B-Basic contains a Life Science & Technology Training Centre and a clear focus on innovation via workshops and an annual Innovation Trophy. B-Basic aims to provide the chemical industry with an advanced set of tools and concepts by approaching Bio-based Sustainable Industrial Chemistry in a fully integrated manner, combining functional genomics, intensified bioprocess technology and feedstock scenarios. B-Basic is a consortium of Delft University of Technology, the University of Groningen, Leiden University, Wageningen University and Research Centre, TNO, Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group, DSM, AkzoNobel, Shell Global Solutions, Paques and Schering-Plough.[9]
  • STW Open Technology Programme is open to proposals from any field of applied research and aims to enhance the utilisation of research results. Research proposals can be submitted on an on-going basis.[10]
  • Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation. This Programme initiated by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative has started in 2002. Since 2008 a second 5 years subsidy round has began. The annual turnover of the Kluyver Centre is €10 million with up to one third from industry and two third from governmental sources and knowledge institutes. The research covers five programmes: yeast for chemicals, fuels and beverages, Filamentous fungi for protein and peptides; lactic acid bacteria for fermented foods and food ingredients; systems biology of industrial micro-organisms and industrial genomics for society. The Kluyver Centre aims to enable breakthrough innovations in industrial biotechnology that are required for addressing sustainability, quality of life and the economy. To this end, it applies existing and novel genomics technology for high-quality, precompetitive and focused research on three key groups of industrial micro-organisms: yeast, fungi, and lactic acid bacteria. The Kluyver Centre is a consortium comprised of Delft University of Technology, the universities of Groningen, Leiden and Utrecht, Wageningen University, VU University Amsterdam, NIZO food research and TI Food and Nutrition. Current industrial partners are: Applikon Biotechnology, CSKFood Enrichment, Danone, DSM, Friesland Foods, Heineken, Nestlé, Purac, and Tate & Lyle.[11]
  • Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. The aim of the Innovational Research Incentives is to promote innovation in the academic research field. Industrial Biotechnology research ideas can flourish within this funding.[12]
  • CatchBio - Catalysis for Sustainable Chemicals from Biomass initiates a research programme of 8 years (it started in 2007) in the field of catalytic biomass conversion. It aims to process the various components present in biomass (cellulose, hemi-cellulose, lignin, proteins and oils) in useful fuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Also the socio-economical and ethical aspects will be investigated. CatchBio is a collaborative programme of Universities and Industry with a total budget of € 29million of which € 15 million is a subsidy provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.[13]
  • Horizon - The Horizon programme is set up as a breeding ground for talented researchers active in genomics and/or bioinformatics. It aims to promote and coordinate outstanding and visionary fundamental research by offering researchers the freedom to realize their ideas and concepts beyond existing disciplines. The research supported by the Horizon programme is future-oriented. Researchers are given the opportunity to respond rapidly to new hypotheses or technologies. In addition, the Horizon programme seeks to achieve valorisation of the results obtained in the research projects. Project leaders are therefore expected to adopt an active attitude towards valorisation.[14]

Research priorities for marine biotechnology research

Current science and technology policy in the Netherlands identifies nine ‘top sectors’ for research and innovation, several of which are relevenat for Marine Biotechnology Research:

  • Life Sciences
  • Water
  • Agro-food
  • Energy
  • Chemicals
  • Creative Industry
  • Horticulture and propagating stock
  • High-tech materials and systems
  • Logistics

There are no specific marine biotechnology research priorities defined by the Dutch government at this stage.

Strategic documents

  • National science policy and the science system in the Netherlands: An organisational overview[15]
  • Overview of the state of art of the Dutch Lifesciences and health biotechnology research [16]
  • The Report Industrial Biotechnology In The Netherlands contains a good description policy and regulations [17]

Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

  • In 2012, The Netherlands operates 8 local/coastal vessels from 15m to 34,9 m; 1 regional vessels of 41,5m (Delta); 1 oceanic of 63m (Zirfaea); and 3 global vessels from 66m to 83,02m registered at the European Research Vessels Infobase [18].
  • In 2012, The Netherlands maintains about 1 large marine research equipments registered in the European large Exchangeable instruments database [18].
  • Key aquaculture experimental and research facilities in The Netherlands include
  • Aquarium facilities (Royal Netherlands Intitute for Sea Research)
  • Aquarium facilities (Wageningen IMARES)
  • Most laboratories, bench and pilot-scale facilities available in the universities and institutes are more or less open-to-all facilities; those available in private enterprises are mostly closed facilities.
  • Applied and strategic research by IMARES Wageningen UR [19]
  • Fundamental research in estuarine water and coastal seas at world class level by CEME [20]

Major initiatives




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).