Marine Biotechnology in France

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UPDATED July 2015

Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

There are no specific Marine Biotechnology strategies, plans or policies in France at the national level. Overarching French Science & Technology Policy is described in the National Programmation Law for Research and in the National Research Strategy (SNRI)

  • National Programmation Law for Research[1]
  • National Research Strategy (SNRI)[2]

In 2009, the "National strategy for the sea and the oceans" Blue Book laid out France’s maritime policy. The Blue Book reaffirmed France's ambition to know in depth, protect and manage its vast maritime area; a source of economic and ecological wealth.

  • Blue book - National strategy for the sea and the oceans[3]

The marine research component of the overarching Science & Technology Policy is further elaborated in the strategoci policy document of the French marine science organisation Ifremer:

  • Exploring the sea to understand the earth: contribution to a national research strategy for marine sciences for 2020[4]

Research funding schemes and programmes

In France, there is no specific call for marine and biotechnological research (apart from the SEAS-ERA call launched in March 2012). However, marine projects can be funded under non-thematic calls for competitive research proposals launched by the French Research Council (ANR) which operates thematic and blue skies programmes [5]. About 10% of the ANR annual budget is dedicated to marine research.

  • The programming document Orientations for the ANR Programmation Cycle describes each year the main priorities that are going to be addressed through dedicated calls in line with the National Strategy for Research and Innovation (SNRI)[6].

The Work Programme comprises four interlinked components each with a specific budget and governance:

  • Major societal challenges[7]
  • At the frontiers of research[8]
  • Building the European Research Area (ERA) and France's international attractiveness[9]
  • Economic impact of research and competitiveness[10]

Other National Research Funding Programmes which may be relevant for marine biotechnology research include:

  • ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) can launch calls that can be relevant for Marine sciences (climate change, micro-algal biomass for biofuels, …) [11].
  • LITEAU (National Programme Coastal Management) managed by Ministry for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development, Territory Planning (MEEDDAT) [12]
Since 1998, the LITEAU Programme aims at improving sea and coastal areas management by supporting science-based projects at the interface between land and sea, dealing with social-ecological systems through multidisciplinary approach and stakeholders’ participation (e.g. pollutions, marine protected areas, coastal ecological engineering).[13]
  • The LEFE Programme (The planetary Fluid Envelopes and the Environment) is managed by INSU and is dedicated to support research on the understanding of the physical, physic-chemical and biogeochemical processes that control the dynamics and the variability of the ocean, the atmosphere and their interfaces. It is composed of 5 main actions: atmospheric chemistry; biogeochemical cycles, environment and resources; operational oceanography; interactions between atmosphere, ice and ocean; numerical methods.[14][15]
  • The EC2CO Programme (Continental and Coastal Ecosphere) is coordinated by INSU. It supports interdisciplinary research on major environmental issues on the continental and coastal ecosphere through 4 actions: biogeochemistry, hydrology and ecosystem functioning; ecotoxicology and pollutants dynamics; environmental microbiology; dynamics of littoral interfaces.[16][17]

Strategic documents

In November 2012, upon demand by the secretaries of state of research and environment, the Alliance for the Environment (AllEnvi, a group of French research agencies) published an inventory and challenges of research and innovation in marine sciences under the title The Marine Programme. The Marine Program presents an inventory of French research on marine and coastal environments, their means of study and the technological developments they sustain, and identifies key issues in terms of knowledge and public policy.

  • The Marine Program: Inventory and challenges of research and innovation in marine sciences[18]
  • A working group on marine biotechnology was set up in the context of the cluster Europôle Mer, aiming at elaborating a position paper related to Marine biotechnology in the West part of France (regions Bretagne and Pays de la Loire). This document that include recommendations and priorities for developing the Marine biotech sector shall be available on line in April-May 2015.

Private funding mechanisms

  • BPI France is a public-sector institution dedicated to economic development and a key source of financing and other support for SMEs[19].

Research priorities for marine biotechnology research


Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

  • ALLENVI Groupe Mer – Working group of Association of Research Operators in Environment. Programme Mer. ALLENVI published (end of 2012) strategic document “The Marine Program: Inventory and challenges of research and innovation in marine sciences” (see above).[20]
  • Biogenouest - the life science core facility network in Western France which comprises a Marine component which is open for all interested parties extending beyond the region.[21]
  • Regional Clusters
  • CapBiotek - Regional Cluster in Biotechnologies in Brittany [22]
  • Blue Cluster - Regional Cluster in Biotechnologies in Pays de la Loire[23]
  • Pole Mer Bretagne Atlantique - Global economic competitiveness cluster in Brittany[24]
  • Pole Mer PACA - Global economic competitiveness cluster in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur[25]
  • Europole Mer “Blue Network” - an informal coordination structure with about 20 members with one of the focal areas (Axe 1) on marine genomics and blue chemistry (related to biotech)[26]
  • Currently, France operates 13 local/coastal vessels from 10m to 30m ; 1 regional vessel of 36m (Antea); 1 oceanic of 56 m (Le Suroit); and 5 global vessels from 65m to 120,5m managed by the French Oceanographic Fleet. These boats are registered at the European Research Vessels Infobase.[27]
  • In 2014, France maintains about 12 large marine research equipments included manned submersibles and remote operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicle registered in the European large Exchangeable instruments database.[27].
  • Key aquaculture experimental and research facilities in France include
  • Ifremer Station experimentale d’Aquaculture[28]
  • Ifremer Laboratoire ARN[29]
  • Station Biologique Roscoff[30]
  • Observatoire Oceanologique de Banyuls sur mer[31]
  • Observartoire Oceéanologique de Villefranche sur mer[32]
  • Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer[33]
  • Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille[34]

Major initiatives

  • R&D and Infrastructures projects funded in the frame of “Investissements d’avenir” ANR
  • IDEALG – Consortium of 18 different partners from the academic sector (CNRS, IFREMER, UEB, UBO, UBS, ENSCR, University ofNantes, INRA, AgroCampus), the industrial sector (C-WEED, Bezhin Rosko, Aleor, France Haliotis, DuPont) as well as a technical centre specialized in seaweeds (CEVA) in order to foster biotechnology applications within the seaweed field. Budget of € 10 Millions for 10 years[35]Contact: Philippe Potin ( & Monique Ras (
  • OCEANOMICS – Project providing scientific prolongation of the Tara-Oceans expedition with a budget of €8 Millions for ten years coordinated by Station Biologique de Roscoff [36]Contact: Colomban de Vargas (
  • GREENSTARS – Institute of Excellence Energy on biofuelsContact : Jean-Philippe Steyer
  • EMBRC-Fr - French component of the European European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC), an ESFRI Roadmap Research Infrastructure with a budget of €16 Millions over 10 years[37] Contact : Ian Probert ( & Anne-Emmanuelle Kervella (
  • LABEX Mer, Ocean in Change – Laboratory of Excellence in marine research Ocean in Change [38]Contact: Yves-Marie Paulet (
  • FRB Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité – Foundation for Biodiversity research[39]
  • Company for the acceleration of the technology transfer (SATT) Ouest Valorisation was officially created on 20 July 2012 with a regional remit covering the areas Brittany and Pays de la Loire. It is endowed with €66.5mn over 10 years to improve the results of public research through licenses, industrial partnerships, new business start-ups, or by facilitating the mobility of the researchers. It brings together research centers and higher education bodies (French acronym: PRES) from the European University of Brittany (27%) and the Nantes Angers Le Mans university (21%), CNRS (15%), Inserm (3%), IRD (1%) and the State via Caisse des Dépôts (33%) with a head office in Rennes and two secondary establishments in Brest and Nantes. Marine Biotechnology will be one of the 4-5 focal areas of the SATT (Website under construction).
  • France has a wide range of marine resource and biotechnology companies ranging from small SME’s to major multinationals. Some notable examples of companies with know marine biotechnology research activities, include major players such as SANOFI (pharmaceuticals), Laboratoire Pierre Fabre (pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, plant and innovation technology research), L’Oreal (Cosmetics, beauty products and perfumes, Lallemand (yeast bacteria and speciality ingredients) and more than 50 Innovative SMEs (from pharma to food and cosmetics) such as Hemarina.


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This draft country 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).