Marine Biotechnology in Slovenia

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UPDATED August 2016

Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport (MESCS) and particularly the Science division as part of the Directorate for Higher education and Science, defines the expert bases for the adoption of political documents in the field of research policy and plans the required financial resources for research. There are no specific Marine Biotechnology strategies, plans or policies being implemented in Slovenia. The Research and Innovation Strategy of Slovenia (RISS) is the key strategic and political document of the Slovenian policy on research and innovation. It is currently being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology and other relevant stakeholders, who have contributed to the development of the program. Currently the new National Industrial Policy is being prepared together with the National Development Strategy for the 2014-2020 period. The two documents already take into account Smart specialization. They are however not yet public. Biotechnology has been a priority in the previous National Research and Development programme and will continue to hold a strategic place in both documents currently being prepared.

Research funding schemes and programmes

The financing of research activities is mainly implemented through the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) and the Slovenian Technology Agency (TIA). The main instruments are research programs (long term, 5-year projects), basic and applied research projects, targeted research programs, the young researcher program, research infrastructures and international cooperation. Closer to market activities are funded by the Public Agency for Entrepreneurship, Internationalization, Foreign Investments and Technology or through different calls funded through European Structural Funds. The latter will also be used in synergy with different Horizon 2020 programs.

Research priorities for marine biotechnology research

The RISS defines the R&D priorities for the next decade (2011 - 2020). They were established on the basis of the National Research and Development programme 2006 - 2010 and other stakeholder consultations. They are also being followed by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) and the Slovenian Technology Agency when they issue calls for basic or/and applied research projects. These priorities are:

  • Information and communication technologies,
  • Modern (new) synthetic metal and non-metal materials and nanotechnologies,
  • Complex systems and innovative technologies,
  • Technologies for sustainable economy, and
  • Health and life science.

The National Industrial Policy and the National Development Strategy take into account Smart specialization, but are not yet public. Priorities set in those documents can be communicated once the documents are publicised.


The Research and Innovation Strategy of Slovenia (RISS) defines the R&D priorities for the 2011 – 2020 period. They priorities also being followed by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) when it issues calls for basic or/and applied research projects. The priorities relevant to biotechnology include: modern (new) synthetic metal and non-metal materials and nanotechnologies, complex systems and innovative technologies, technologies for a sustainable economy, and health and life sciences. The Slovenian Industrial Policy aims at supporting key emerging technologies, including biotechnology. The Smart Specialisation strategy includes Natural and traditional resources for the future as a priority area, allowing for the transition to circular economy, which will among other require technologies for sustainable biomass transformation and new biobased materials.

Strategic documents

There are no documents devoted to Marine Biotechnology.

Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

  • Slovenia operates 1 local/coastal vessels of 11,98m (Sagita), with a dry and wet lab and associated field equipment, registered at the European Research Vessels Infobase [1],
  • A 7m long working boat
  • A salt water laboratory aquarium with lab to sea interflow capability
  • Marine Biology Station Piran of the National Institute of biology (MBP, NIB) - The Marine Biology Station is currently the only research group in Slovenia devoted to maritime scientific research and professional work. Collaborating with high calibre foreign marine research centres, it represents a national focal point for development in the area of marine research. There are 35 people routinely employed at the MBS, comprising of 19 researchers, 8 young researchers and 8 technical and administrative collaborators. The research work is periodically augmented by students and trainee postgraduate and postdoctoral fellows with various disciplines. The infrastructure of the Marine Biology Station Piran includes:
  • Research laboratories (biological, chemical, microbiological etc)
  • A salt water laboratory aquarium with lab to sea interflow capability
  • Congress hall (95 seats), classrooms (40 seats), biology practice laboratory, meeting rooms (25 persons), dormitory (24 beds)
  • Library with 1500 scientific monographs and 60 specialized journals
  • A diving base with workshop
  • A 12m long research vessel, with a dry and wet lab and associated field equipment and a 7m long working boat
  • Laboratory of Catalysis and Chemical Reaction Engineering of the National Institute of Chemistry, focuses on process and product modelling of reaction kinetics, transport phenomena and fluid mechanics, sensitivity analysis, optimisation, intensification, economical valorisation relating to cultivation and growth of microalgae under different conditions, that is light intensity, nutrient concentration, and process conditions such as temperature, pH, aeration, CO2 content, flow conditions, etc. Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives include:
  • Bioreactors: batch, semi-batch, continuous, etc.
  • Downstream processing: extraction, distillation, absorption, etc.
  • Analytics: temperature, pH, redox potential, nutrient concentration, cell number, chlorophyll, oxygen, lipid content, lipid fatty acid profile
  • Biodiesel, biogas, pyrolysis, gasification and combustion equipment

Major initiatives

Slovenian participation in the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET MIZS participates in the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET (ERA-MBT). MIZS has participated in the first ERA-MBT joint transnational call for research proposals. Six Slovenian participants participated in consortia that applied to the call, covering the following topics:


microalgae, photobioreactors, extraction, downstream, pufas, carotenouds, sterols, protein isolation, protein hydrolysis, enzyme activity assays, membrane filtration, expanded bed adsorption, extraction using green solvents, activity testing, NMR
aquaculture waste stream, recycling, bioactive compounds, fermentation
algae diatoms, natural extracts, food additives, biomaterials, high-added value products, harmful algae bloom, environment, sustainability, alternative protein, fatty acids, EPA, DHA, carbohydrates, biomedicine
extraction, high value products, enzymes in processing steps, reduced energy consumption
bio-products; biosynthetic pathways; cyanobacteria; CyanoCoreReactor; genomics; genetic tools; integrated solution; metabolic pathway modeling; natural mutants; photobioreactors; pyrosequencing; secondary metabolites; synthetic cyanobacteria
enzyme, whole cell, biocatalysis, aroma, cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, ionic liquid, supercritical fluid extraction, microfluidic system, microbioreactor.


The MAR3BIO project (Biorefinery and biotechnological exploitation of marine biomasses), with the National institute of Chemistry being the Slovenian beneficiary, was funded through the first call. MIZS also participates in the second ERA-MBT joint transnational call for research proposals, again receiving six applications with Slovenian participants.


FP7 projects in the marine with Slovene participation


Project Slovenian Participant
MAREX: Exploring Marine Resources for Bioactive Compounds: From Discovery to Sustainable Production and Industrial Applications University of Ljubljana – Faculty of Pharmacy
VECTORS: Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport
SMS: Sensing toxicants in Marine waters makes Sense using biosensors National Institute of Biology, Marine Biology Station
KILL-SPILL: Integrated Biotechnological Solutions for Combating Marine Oil Spills Institute for Microbial Sciences and Technologies
ECSAFESEAFOOD: Priority environmental contaminants in seafood: safety assessment, impact and public perception University of Maribor, Medical Faculty, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences
CODE: Curing polyester resins on demand Elan Marine d.o.o., Institute of Metals and Technology


Relevant Research projects by Marine Biology Station Piran (MBP, NIB):

  • Research program P1-0237 Coastal Sea Research (1.1.2009 - 31.12.2013)
  • ECO/10/277396/SI2.601543 (Eco-Innovation 2010) Marine debris removal and preventing further litter entry – Marine Clean
  • EU FP7-KBBE-2010-4 _RADAR Rationally Designed Aquatic Receptors integrated in label-free biosensor platforms for remote surveillance of toxins and pollutants (2011-2013)
  • EU FP7 IP PERSEUS
  • Marine Strategy Framework directive (Directive2008/56/EC)
  • Slovenian - Croatian bilateral (2012-2013): Enclosed marine systems as laboratory for biological phenomena
  • Slovenian - Argentinean research cooperation project (2012-2014): Jellyfish blooms and the possibilities for commercial use
  • Slovenian - Japanese joint project (2012-2014): Slovenian - Japan cooperative studies on problematic jellyfish blooms: mechanisms and mitigation
  • EU FP6_ECASA, 006540_Ecosystem Approach for Sustainable Aquaculture
  • CREICO, NSF, ZDA - Cooperative Research on Ecological Interactions in the Coastal Oceans program in the North Adriatic sea: Collaborative international research on gelatinous zooplankton in the Adriatic Sea, Role of bacteria in production and decomposition of colloidal organic matter in the Northern Adriatic

References

  1. http://www.eurocean.org

Disclaimer

This country profile is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not 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 CSA MarineBiotech Project (2011-2013) and updated by the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET (2013-2017).