Marine Institute

Marine Food Projects Win €4.5m FIRM Research Funding

Eight marine foods and marine biotechnology related projects will receive €4.5m from the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) 2013.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute welcomed the announcement by Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine of the successful projects to be funded by the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM).

“I congratulate the successful applicants - these projects are led by expert Principal Investigators who are internationally ranked in their field. Their creative scientific ability, coupled with outstanding reputations, has been instrumental in building the type of collaboration required to engage in high-level research. It brings new research expertise to the marine sector, creates focused research teams and generates new research talent. With successes as these, and following recent successes for marine foods and marine biotechnology researchers in highly competitive SFI and EU research calls, Ireland is well positioned to play a significant role in Horizon 2020 research projects.”

The projects address a range of research challenges facing the marine foods sector including enhancing the quality of ready-to-eat crabs and lobster products and applying novel processing technologies to extend the shelf-life of fish. Significant amongst the projects is the focus on the use of marine bio-resources as the basis for food-health products. This includes projects that seek to exploit Ireland’s seaweed resource, targeting its use as a source of prebiotic ingredients for compounds that improve brain health; and exploiting the anti-inflammatory effects of seaweed compounds on bowel disease. These projects rely on bioactive compounds extracted from seaweeds, and a related project will investigate how to optimise the chemical composition of some species of seaweed to enhance the yield of bioactives.

The funding will generate knowledge that will be accessible to Irish firms seeking to generate greater value from marine bioresources in developing food and health related products. This support for enterprise driven research activity is a direct contribution to the goals of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – which aim to build a thriving maritime economy based on healthy marine ecosystems.

Ireland’s seafood and fisheries sectors have high-growth potential and are critically important to the Irish economy. The seafood sector currently employs 11,000 people with annual sales of €700 million, the challenge of Food Harvest 2020 is to increase revenue to €1 billion and employment to 14,000 by 2020.

The potential for marine biotechnology research to contribute to the development of new seafood products and functional ingredients is recognised in Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland. The importance of food and health research, and sustainable food production and processing research, in enabling economic growth and job creation was highlighted in Ireland’s research prioritisation exercise.

The Marine Institute has supported marine research projects to the value of €42.6m since 2007 under the Sea Change Programme, funded by the National Development Plan 2007-2013. These funds contributed to building research capabilities and have attracted new research expertise to work on marine foods related research.

Projects such as the joint Marine Institute - FIRM funded NutraMara, the national marine functional foods research programme, are delivering high quality, industry relevant outputs. NutraMara has created a solid research platform and generated new research capacity that is being used to develop functional food ingredients from marine bio-resources. The strength of NutraMara is reflected in the new FIRM awards, with five of the projects being led by NutraMara Principal Investigators.

Ends.

For more information please contact

Lisa Fitzpatrick, Communications Manager, Marine Institute.

Tel. 091 387200 / 087 2250871

Note to Editors:

Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) has been in operation since 2000, and is the main programme for funding food research in research performing organisations in Ireland including Teagasc and the Higher Education Institutes (HEI) thereby contributing to building and maintaining a research capability that helps underpin a vibrant, competitive and innovative food manufacturing industry.

The marine food projects supported by FIRM address industry research priorities as outlined in Food Research Ireland, the strategic research agenda that guides all public funding of food research in Ireland, to which the Marine Institute contributed to together with the associated marine foods strategic research agenda.

FIRM funded marine foods and marine biotechnology projects

Dr James Lyng – UCD Adding value to ready to eat crustacean products by improving their quality, safety and shelf life enhanced conventional and novel processing methods

Dr. Declan Bolton - Teagasc Shelf-life Extension ingredient and processing technologies Applied to Fish

Prof RJ Fitzgerald – UL Marine sourced Peptides for Glycaemic Management

Dr Dagmar Stengel - NUIG Profiling and optimising chemical composition of red Sea Vegetables for enhanced bioactive yields

Prof Paul Ross - Teagasc Seaweeds as a source of non-digestible complex polysaacharide components for the development of novel prebiotic ingredients for the functional food industry

Prof. Catherine Stanton - Teagasc SMART FOOD-Science based 'Intelligent/Functional and Medical Foods for Optimum Brain Health, Targeting Depression and Cognition

Prof Torres Sweeney - UCD The anti-inflammatory and microbial modulating effects of marine derived laminarin and omega-3 fatty acids on inflammatory bowel disease in an experimental porcine model

Dr Michael Cairns - NUIG Enzymatic generation of sialylated lactose from waste whey using marine derived sialytransferases

Collaborations within these projects include research partners at NUIG, UCC, Teagasc, UCD, UL and the University of Ulster at Coleraine.