Marine Institute

What is Marine Biotechnology?

Marine biotechnology, sometimes referred to as “blue biotechnology”, exploits the diversity found in marine environments in terms of the form, structure, physiology and chemistry of marine organisms, many of which have no  equivalenton land, in ways which enable new materials to be realised.

Europe’s marine ecosystems and organisms are largely unexplored, understudied and underutilised. In spite of Europe’s access to an extensive and diverse set of marine ecosystems  a challenge remains in respect of unlocking the potential of marine bioresources for use as the basis  of new products and processes.

Marine biotechnology is a knowledge generation and conversion process: it unlocks access to biological compounds and provides novel uses for them.  By exploring and harnessing marine materials, entirely new uses in areas far from the marine are likely to be found.  Already there are successful marine:

  • origin pharmaceuticals,
  • novel industrial enzymes,
  • food ingredients,
  • biosensors,
  • drug delivery systems 
  • and new chemical compounds. 

Marine biotechnology is an opportunity  recognised by policy makers and the enterprise sector as offering significant potential to fill market gaps for new products. Further insights to the evolution of marine biotechnology and its role in enabling the sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources in ways benefit the lives of citizens and contribute to economic progress are described in DG Mare’s Blue Growth strategy, the ESF-Marine Board Vision and Strategy for European Marine Biotechnology.