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The new bioprocessing pilot plant is scheduled to open later this year. (Photo: Marealis AS)

Over EUR 3.3 million invested in marine biotechnology

Click on the flag for more information about Norway NORWAY
Monday, April 18, 2011, 05:50 (GMT + 9)

The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research’s (Nofima) bioprocessing pilot plant in Tromsø will be co-located with the new biotechnology facility being built in Kaldfjord - near Tromsø - and expanded from 150 m² to around 1000 m².

This expansion will enable companies to take what they do in the laboratories a step further than what is possible at Nofima’s current bioprocessing pilot plant, from production on a pilot scale to a larger scope of product and process development on both a pilot and industrial scale.

“Marine bioprospecting deals with mapping the active substances found in marine species. Marine bioprocessing involves taking a step further so that the research results in new products. The new plant will be able to assist the companies with this. This bioprocessing pilot plant will be marketed to industrial players not only nationally, but also internationally,” says project manager Even Stenberg at Nofima.

RDA Troms has allocated NOK 22 million (EUR 2.8 million) towards the expansion. RDA is a business-oriented funding scheme that was introduced when the scheme for differentiated employers’ social security contributions were phased out. With the total budget set at NOK 26 million (EUR 3.3 million).

Marine biotechnology has been an area of strategic importance in the Tromsø region since 1975. This effort has given Norway an international reputation within the field of marine biotechnology, and has led to a broader commitment and national strategies for sustainable value creation.

“We are witnessing the development of a new marine bio industry based on scientific competence, but which does not have the resources for long-term process development and marketing work,” says Stenberg.

“In the transition from laboratory to industry, the companies need to test out their processes on a larger scale. For many companies this is a bottleneck to further development.”

The new bioprocessing pilot plant is scheduled to open later this year.

Biotechnology company Marealis AS is working to develop products based on shrimp shell. Trials show that shrimp shell contains substances that can reduce high blood pressure. The company has used Nofima’s bioprocessing pilot plant in the work to develop commercial products.

“Access to the bioprocessing pilot plant is absolutely crucial for us. It has enabled us to check that the processes work and to produce small quantities,” says the General Manager of Marealis AS, Jaran Rauø.

“The new, expanded bioprocessing pilot plant means we will be able to test out production on a much larger scale. We can also carry out the first large-scale productions at the new bioprocessing facility and this also provides a risk reduction for us.”

The new industrial biotechnology facility, known currently by its Norwegian name Industri-Bioparken Tromsø, will be located at Kaldfjorden near Tromsø. SIVA, the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway, will own the 7000 m² building through a subsidiary company. Public and private sector investment in the new facility will total around NOK 250 million (EUR 31.8 million).

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