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Marine Biotechnology in Baltic Sea basin

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Baltic Sea general information.

Situation

The Baltic Sea is one of largest semi-enclosed bodies of brackish water in the world. Its shape, location and history have crucially influenced its present hydrological and biological features, in turn making it very sensitive to pollution and overuse. Geographically the Baltic Sea it is a longitudinally stretched sea, divided into sub-basins with specific conditions, a diverse coastline and plenty of islands. It is almost entirely land-locked (surrounded by nine countries) with very limited water exchange with the ocean via Kattegat and the Danish Straits and with great riverine input. As a result, the water residence time is typically 25–30 years. Also striking is the fact that, compared to many other coastal areas, the Baltic Sea is almost entirely lacking recurrent tides.

As highlighted by the SUBMARINER Project [1], there is no commonly accepted definition of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Its practical delimitation is based on functional relations, intensity of cooperation and interactions, as well as the nature of the problems requiring joint transnational action. Defining criteria may vary depending on the organisations and their purposes: they may be natural criteria such as catchment area (e.g. used by HELCOM), socioeconomic ones like the intensity of trade or migration, administrative or political ones such as membership in Baltic organisations (e.g. used by the Baltic Development Forum, the Council of the Baltic Sea States or the Baltic Sea Region Programme), spatial ones (e.g. used by VASAB) or cultural, historical and ethnic criteria like self-determination or common culture or values.

The Baltic is faced with serious marine environment problems related to the accumulation of industrial and urban waste carried by waterways or discharged directly into its waters. Its populated shores feature many growing industrial centres, particularly in Russia. These phenomena come on top of eutrophication of poorly renewed waters, overexploitation of key fish stocks and contamination of fish by dioxin and heavy metals. The Baltic Sea has 86 protected marine areas that add up to 29 000 km² or 6.5% of its total surface area (Kattegat included). Twenty-five other sites, in the planning stages, will bring this figure to 9.7%.

Overarching regional science strategies, plans and policies

At this stage there is no specific BSR Strategy for marine biotechnology but there are growing calls from the scientific and industry communities to develop one based on the huge potential from the available biological, human and infrastructure resources in the area (see also below for future prospects).

Despite different perspectives on its identity, the Baltic Sea Region is a well-established functional macro-region with a long tradition of multilateral collaborations at political and scientific level. This includes pioneering work by the Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (BONUS) [2] in support of scientific research and the HELCOM, an intergovernmental organisation of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the EU aimed at protecting the Baltic marine environment from all sources of pollution. These and other positive regional experiences have evolved and found expression in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) [3], the first EU macro-regional strategy for one of the Sea Basins.

Research Funding Schemes and Programmes

There are no specific regional research funding schemes or programmes specifically targeting marine biotechnology at this stage. However, marine biotechnology activities can be funded by a wide range of instruments including for research, innovation and economic development. Below is a list of some of the more well-known schemes but this list is not exhaustive by all means.

  • Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (Bonus) Program [2]
  • Baltic Sea Region Stars Programme. The BSR Stars Programme aims to speed up innovation in the Baltic Sea Region through transnational cooperation to strengthen competitiveness and sustainable growth. The BSR Stars programme is a framework programme (2010-2020) within the EU macro-regional strategy and the ambition is to add on financial instruments to further develop the BSR Stars programme [4].
  • European Territorial cooperation programmes - transnational programme
  • Baltic Sea Region Programme (former Interreg IVB) aims to strengthen development towards a sustainable, competitive and territorially integrated Baltic Sea region by connecting potentials over the borders [5].
  • European Territorial cooperation programmes - cross-border cooperation programmes
  • Latvia–Lithuania Cross Border Cooperation Programme (2007–2013) aims to promote sustainable and equal socio-economic development in border regions to make it competitive for economical and business development and attractive for living and visiting [6].
  • Estonia–Latvia Cross Border Cooperation Programme (2007–2013) aims to promote sustainable development and economic competitiveness of the Programme area through achieving an integrated and cross-border approach to economic, social and environmental development in ways, which involve and benefit local people and communities [7].
  • Lithuania–Poland Cross-Border Cooperation Programme (2007–2013) aims to foster the sustainable development of the border region through enhanced economic, social and territorial cohesion of the areas on both sides of the border [8].
  • South Baltic Cross-Border Cooperation Programme (2007–2013) aims to strengthen the sustainable development of the South Baltic area through joint actions increasing its competitiveness and enhancing integration among people and institutions [9].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "North" (2007–2013) aims to strengthen the competitiveness and cohesion of the region [10].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Botnia-Atlantica" (2007–2013) aims to strengthen the east-west dimension and contribute to increased integration and cooperation for stronger economic growth and sustainable development [11].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Sweden - Norway" (2007–2013) aims to strengthen the attractiveness and competitiveness of the region through cross-border cooperation for the benefit of the local people and communities [12].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Öresund - Kattegatt - Skagerrak" (2007–2013) aims to create region which is attractive and competitive, and characterised by knowledge-based cooperation and sustainable development [13].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Poland - Czech Republic" (2007–2013) aims to address these key issues and remove existing barriers that prevent the border area from being competitive and hinder integration of the area from the economic and social points of view [14].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Germany (Saxony) - Czech Republic" (2007–2013) aims to promote sustainable development and economic competitiveness of the German-Czech border region through an integrated, cross-border approach to economic, social, and environmental development that involves and benefits local residents and their communities [15].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Slovakia - Czech Republic" (2007–2013) aims to support joint development of the region within the common Schengen area by increasing cohesion and convergence of the cross border region [16].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Poland - Slovakia" (2007–2013) aims to use a partnership approach to intensify Polish-Slovak cooperation and support the sustainable development of the border region with improvements to cross-border infrastructure, support for socio-economic, environmental and cultural development, and implementation of micro projects based on people-to-people actions [17].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Poland - Germany (Saxony)" (2007–2013) aims to promote the sustainable development and economic competitiveness of the German-Polish border region [18].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Poland (Lubuskie) - Germany (Brandenburg)" (2007–2013) aims to promote sustainable development and economic competitiveness of the German-Polish border region through an integrated, cross-border approach to economic and social development that involves and benefits local residents and their communities [3].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Poland (Zachodniopomorskie) - Germany (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg)" (2007–2013) aims to contribute to the equal and balanced development of the cross-border area by strengthening links between citizens, businesses and institutions [19].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Syddanmark - Schleswig - K.E.R.N." (2007–2013) aims to help the cross-border area become an active player in the global market-place. The focus is on improving the area’s attractiveness and further strengthening the cross-border cooperation that was developed under previous programming periods [20].
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Programme "Denmark - Germany" (2007–2013) (Fehmarnbelt Region Sjælland - Ostholstein-Lübeck-Plön) aims to turn the Baltic Sea space into a functional maritime region, thereby improving the attractiveness and the economic position of the Programme area along the Hamburg-Copenhagen/Malmö axis [21].
  • European Territorial cooperation programmes - interregional programmes
  • INTERREG IVC (2007 – 2013) aims to improve, by means of interregional cooperation, the effectiveness of regional development policies in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention as well as to contribute to economic modernisation and increased competitiveness of Europe [22].
  • Urban Development Network Programme URBACT II (2007–2013) aims to improve the effectiveness of sustainable integrated urban development policies in Europe with a view to implementing the Lisbon-Gothenburg Strategy [23].
  • ESPON Programme (2007-2013) aims to support policy development in relation to the aim of territorial cohesion and a harmonious development of the European territory [24].
  • External border cooperation programmes within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument
  • Estonia–Latvia–Russia Cross Border Cooperation Programme (2007–2013) within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument aims to promote joint development activities for the improvement of the region’s competitiveness by utilising its potential and beneficial location in the cross roads between the EU and Russian Federation [25].
  • Latvia–Lithuania–Belarus Cross Border Cooperation Programme (2007–2013) within European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument aims to enhance the territorial cohesion of the Latvian, Lithuanian and Belarus border region, secure a high level of environmental protection and provide for economic and social welfare as well as promote intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity [26].
  • Lithuania–Poland–Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme (2007-2013) within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument aims to promoting economic and social development on both sides of the common border; working together to address common challenges and common problems; promoting people to people co-operation [27].
  • Kolarctic - Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme (2007-2013) within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument aims to reduce the periphery of the countries’ border regions and its related problems as well as to promote multilateral cross-border co-operation [28].
  • Karelia - Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme (2007-2013) within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument aims to increase well-being in the programme area through cross-border cooperation [29].
  • South East Finland - Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme (2007-2013) within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument to promote the position of the programme area as an integrated economic zone and a centre for transportation and logistics in order to strengthen its competitiveness and attractiveness to investors, and to improve the state of the environment and the standard of living and welfare of its citizens [30].

Research priorities

n/a

Strategic documents

  • The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the first Macro Regional Strategy in Europe , adopted by the European Council at the end of October 2009 during the Swedish Presidency of the EU. The Baltic countries have united to develop this common Strategy aimed at overcoming environmental problems, but also to increase the region's competitiveness and prosperity [31].
  • HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan [32]
  • Baltic Development Forum: Going for Green Growth in the Baltic Sea - Policy Recommendations for Regional Co-operation [33]
  • BONUS Strategic Research Agenda [2]
  • Creating a Coherent Framework for Baltic Sea Cooperation Report from the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). CBSS is an overall political forum for regional inter-governmental cooperation. The Members of the Council are the eleven states of the Baltic Sea Region as well as the European Commission. The states are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and a representative from the European Commission [34].
  • SUBMARINER BSR Roadmap (to be published by fall 2013)[1]

Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

ScanBalt® fmba (in short ScanBalt) is the organisation for the Baltic Sea or Nordic-Baltic Region's Health and Bio Economy community, named ScanBalt BioRegion. ScanBalt is a not-for-profit member association which serves as a service provider for the members and promotes the development of ScanBalt BioRegion as a globally competitive macro-region and innovation market. The aims of the regions and the regional networks constitute the basis for ScanBalt. ScanBalt acts according to a shared vision for ScanBalt BioRegion. ScanBalt has a return of investment by the members of more than 15 to 1 since 2001. [35]

Major Initiatives

EU Baltic Sea Region Program Project SUBMARINER – Sustainable Uses of Baltic Marine Resources. The SUBMARINER Network has been accepted as a new flagship project under the Priority Area “Innovation” of the revised Action Plan of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). It aims to be a transnational umbrella for future actions in the field of sustainable and innovative uses of Baltic marine resources. Based on the SUBMARINER Roadmap (to be published in early fall 2013), the Network will coordinate implementation of specific actions and ensure communication between projects and initiatives. [1]

Major observations, trends and future prospects

In the Baltic Sea Region Blue Biotechnology has thus far not played a major role even though its marine organisms provide a great potential for exploration, with the added advantage of easier and thus more cost-efficient access and clearer legal conditions. The potential for development and wide implementation is particularly high in the Baltic, based on the existing expertise as well as the biotechnology equipment already present available in the region, which merely has to be put to use for the exploration from marine organisms. What is more: the Baltic Sea Region shows a great tradition in pursuing transnational cooperative strategies, which is a core requirement for turning Blue Biotechnology research into marketable applications.

A dedicated strategy for marine biotechnology research in the Baltic would allow for turning regional disparities into advantages, using laboratories in the new Eastern Baltic Sea countries while developing close links with the big pharmaceutical industry based more in the Western Baltic Sea region. Amplified coordination between potential contributing partners in the region would have substantial positive effects on scientific productivity, international success, foundation of new companies and growth of existing companies, financial support of investors, employment and most importantly contribute towards improved human health and environmental conditions of the Baltic Sea.

Hence, what is needed is a focused region-wide strategy for the implementation of Blue Biotechnology in the Baltic Sea area which is aligned with EU and international level developments. The strategy should be based on national action plans which take into account the respective strength of institutions and experts in the individual countries while also responding to most urgent market needs. Based on such a strategy a sequence of transnational priority actions could be initiated such as the establishment of a “Baltic Sea Region Blue Biotechnology Network”, a centre for bioprospecting of Baltic Sea microorganisms or a distribution network for cosmetics, health care and wellness products using a Baltic Sea Region label, the scaling up of marine genomics as a source of novel enzymes from the Baltic Sea or the advancement of innovative marine technologies stemming from the region. The ongoing success of the ScanBalt network for the last ten years has shown that the BSR is well placed not only to develop but also to implement such kind of strategy.

References

  1. 1,0 1,1 1,2 http://www.submariner-project.eu/
  2. 2,0 2,1 2,2 http://www.bonusportal.org/about_bonus
  3. 3,0 3,1 http://www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu/
  4. http://www.bsrstars.se/
  5. http://eu.baltic.net/
  6. http://www.latlit.eu
  7. http://www.estlat.eu
  8. http://www.lietuva-polska.eu
  9. http://en.southbaltic.eu
  10. http://ww.bd.lst.se
  11. http://www.botnia-atlantica.eu
  12. http://www.interreg-sverige-norge.com/
  13. http://www.interreg-oks.eu/se
  14. http://www.mrr.gov.pl/English/Strony/default.aspx
  15. http://www.sachsen.de/
  16. http://www.build.gov.sk/mvrrsr/index.php
  17. http://www.mrr.gov.pl/English/Strony/default.aspx
  18. http://www.sachsen.de/
  19. http://www.regierung-mv.de
  20. http://www.regionsyddanmark.dk
  21. http://www.fehmarnbeltregion.net/de/main/index.php
  22. http://www.interreg4c.net
  23. http://www.urbact.eu
  24. http://www.espon.eu/main/Menu_Programme/
  25. http://www.estlatrus.eu
  26. http://www.enpi-cbc.eu
  27. http://www.cpe.gov.pl
  28. http://www.kolarcticenpi.info
  29. http://www.kareliaenpi.eu
  30. http://www.southeastfinrusnpi.fi/
  31. http://www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu/
  32. http://www.helcom.fi/BSAP/en_GB/intro/
  33. http://www.bdforum.org/cmsystem/wp-content/uploads/files/thematic_reports_going_green_growth_bsr_2010.pdf
  34. http://www.cbss.org/CBSS-The-Council/the-council
  35. http://www.scanbalt.org/

Disclaimer

This regional profile is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not aim nor 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 European Marine Board as part of the CSA MarineBiotech Project activities (2011-2013) and is largely based on the information received from Imke Schneemann (Norgenta, Germany) and documents of the SUBMARINER Project (Sustainable Uses of Baltic Marine Resources) available at http://www.submariner-project.eu. The SUBMARINER project (October 2010 to December 2013) is funded by the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013. It has a total budget of €3.6 million, of which €2.8 million are European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) co-finance and €0.8 million are partners’ contributions.