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Global ambitions for new marine products R&D hub

A woman holding a microphone, speaking, standing in front of a lecturn.
South Australia's Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven, launching the fully operational Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre. Photo: MBCRC

Seaweed 'seed' production, nutrient offsets, health extracts and microalgae bioreactors are the focus of the first projects endorsed by Australia's newest marine science research hub.

The Marine Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre (MRBC) officially launched itself as a fully operational organisation in November 2022, after a year spent establishing itself and its research priorities.

“We aim to make Australia a global player in marine biotechnology, an industry forecast to be worth more than $700 billion by 2035," says CEO Dr Justin Coombs.

"High-value marine bioproducts including nutraceuticals, omega 3 oils, cosmetics, plant-based proteins, agrochemicals and biopolymers and bioplastics will serve this global market."

“In response to industry needs, our research leaders will work with industry partners to assemble the best research teams in the country to deliver solutions."

Dr Coombs says the MBCRC will focus on ensuring that all its projects deliver impactful R&D for the growing Australian marine bioproducts industry.

"We already have many projects underway in diverse areas such as seaweed extracts for human health; microalgae bioreactors; seaweed ‘seed’ production and seaweed cultivation for aquaculture nutrient offset,” Dr Coombs said.

The MBCRC is driving Australia’s transition to the ‘third generation’ of marine production, which is focused on high-value product generation; first generation is wild catch fishing, second generation is aquaculture.

MBCRC vision: for Australia to be recognised as a major supplier of premier and innovative marine bioproducts globally.

The Australian Government will provide $59 million in funding. With co-funding from its partners, MBCRC anticipates deploying up to $270 million in cash and in-kind resources over the next 10 years. These funds support collaborative work in four key spaces:

  • Establishing pathways from biomarine discovery to markets in health, nutrition, agriculture, aquaculture and biomaterials;

  • Creating and expanding sustainable marine bioresource production facilities;

  • integrating of marine science and biotechnology with industries in Australia and overseas; and

  • Creating industry-ready graduates focused on taking discoveries out of the lab and into the economy.

The MBCRC is based in Adelaide, at Flinders University’s Tonsley Innovation District where the official launch was held on November 30. The MBCRC also launched its first annual report in November.

MBCRC mission: to transform Australia’s emerging marine bioproducts sector into a globally competitive industry

Five people standing in a row.
At the launch of the MBCR, from left, Professor Robert Saint Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Flinders University; the Hon Clare Scriven, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development; Dr Justin Coombs CEO, Marine Bioproducts CRC; Mr Anthony McGregor, Acting Head of the Research and Commercialisation Division of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources; and Mr John Gunn, MBCRC Board Chair. Photo: MBCRC

In the annual report, MBCRC chair John Gunn says the CRC is pursuing a broader legacy, beyond economic benefits.

These include:

  • the economic development of First Nations businesses;

  • innovative green solutions for agriculture;

  • the development of new biomaterials for environmental sustainability;

  • regional jobs and development; and

  • the development of new pharmaceutical and complementary health products ."

After establishing project approval structures and research program milestones, the first MBCRC projects were Board approved by the end of the financial year.

In addition to the four projects already approved, he says a further 13 projects at various stages of development and approval.

For more information: visit

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