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      • The Making of Campus Mondial de la Mer | Pierre Colas, researcher at the Station Biologique de Roscoff

      • The Making of Campus Mondial de la Mer | Pierre Colas, researcher at the Station Biologique de Roscoff
      • Campus Mondial de la Mer is a step towards developing a sustainable maritime economy, or “blue growth”. Its ambition is to make the tip of Brittany THE global center for studying and making the most of the oceans and seas.


        Pierre Colas, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

        I am an INSERM researcher, a cellular and molecular (rather than marine) biologist and I’ve been working at the Station Biologique de Roscoff for nearly ten years. I’m the only INSERM researcher at the Station. I’m not Breton either, but I’ve always felt a strong sense of attachment to Brittany because I spent all my holidays here, and during my PhD thesis I would sometimes come here to see my supervisor, Pierre Guerrier, who had worked at the Station for a long time and even directed it for a while.

        For three years I have been in charge of the many aspects of promotion, technology transfer and corporate relationships. Before this, I worked in Lyon where I co-founded and co-managed a biotechnology firm. I am currently involved in the exciting Blue Valley Science Park project. Blue Valley is an idea that our director, Bernard Kloareg, has been gradually developing over several years, after recognizing the constant growth in our research partnerships with companies. So when a unique real estate opportunity arose in Roscoff, strong backing from regional and local authorities, allowed us to pursue this project to create a science park dedicated to marine biotechnologies and attached to the Station Biologique.

        I am also an administrator for Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and, in my role as Station representative, I was heavily involved in the Campus Mondial de la Mer project team during the discussion and construction phase.


        Can you briefly introduce us to the Station Biologique de Roscoff?

        It was founded in 1872 and is today the largest European Research Centre in Marine Biology and Ecology, employing over 300 people. For around one hundred and fifty years, the Station Biologique has been training elite marine biologists both from France and abroad. The joint governance by CNRS and UPMC has brought a small part of a Parisian university to Brittany.

        Recently, we have secured four Investment for the Future (PIA) projects: EMBRC (European Marine Biological Resource Centre), Idealg (research on seaweed: macroalgae), Oceanomics (processing of data from the Tara expedition on plankton biodiversity). The most recent project, Blue Train, is directly linked with the Campus Mondial de la Mer. (I will talk about this later).

        In 2018, the EMBRC Europe project should become a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). Therefore, it could be said that The Station has been and remains a major player in the emergence and structuring of the community of marine biologists in Europe.

        What’s the latest news from the Station Biologique de Roscoff?

        The Blue Train project has just started. GENIALG has just been launched by Philippe Potin, a Research Director at CNRS. This project aims to develop the added value of large seaweed (macroalgae) cultures in biorefineries. France is a European leader in macroalgae biorefineries. The aim is also to promote sustainable methods of production. The project has a European grant for €11 million over four years and brings together 19 public and private partners from six different European countries. It builds on the work carried out in the IDEALG project, expanding it to the European level and ensuring transfer of knowledge about macroalgae to businesses.


        Why is your institution involved in the Campus Mondial de la Mer initiative?

        Technopole Brest-Iroise invited us to take part and we accepted right away as its objectives span the whole of Finistère and it is such an exciting project. We appreciated the fact that Brest took the initiative to seek partners beyond metropolitan France.

        We agree wholeheartedly with the statement that the tip of Finistère brings together most of the leading French figures in marine science and technologies and that it is well on its way to becoming a global leader in this field. And we believe in all of the objectives set out by Campus Mondial de la Mer.


        What do you do in Campus Mondial de la Mer?

        We thoroughly enjoyed each stage in the definition of Campus Mondial de la Mer and found the proposed development methods participative and lively. Links were created between the participants, and it was this that made me believe in the project and root for its success.

        There are four clusters and we steer the one on Marine Bioresources. This is the only cluster that is not directly managed from Brest, which is symbolically very important for us. We have integrated the Blue Train Investment for the Future project into the cluster, which is the training part of the Blue Valley science park (see below).

        Station representatives participate in seven Campus Mondial de la Mer professional networks and our director is a member of the Governing Board.


        Do you have a message for the people or institutions who are not yet part of Campus Mondial de la Mer?

        Come and join this community soon! The Blue Train project is a perfect example of collective impetus, of what can be achieved when everybody actively works together towards a project’s success. We have so many assets to bring to the table as a group and making the tip of Brittany a world leader in the study and sustainable use of the oceans is a perfectly achievable aspiration.


        Blue Train and Blue Valley

        Blue Train aims to develop basic and lifelong training courses to promote the growth of marine biotechnologies in France. We have built a consortium that brings a great many actors together in the Campus Mondial de la Mer area. A dozen businesses are members and these are mainly based in Finistère.

        There are four areas:

        • New basic training courses. The creation of a vocational Bachelor’s degree in marine biotechnology and a professional study path within the Master in Biology and Marine Bioresources (BBMA). The initial student yearly intake will be 10-15 and 5-10 students, respectively. Upon project completion, student intake is expected to be 20-25 and 10-15, respectively. For UBO, the predicted yearly student intake for the Master “Biotechnological valorisation of marine bioresources” (VALBIOREM) changed during this project to 15-20. These figures should increase significantly as the marine biotechnology path develops.  
        • Lifelong learning. We initially aim to train a total of 250 technicians or managers every year.
        • Training trainers in biotechnologies. The objective here is to train a minimum of 50 to 75 secondary school teachers per year through academic training programmes and 20 teachers for maritime and agricultural training colleges
        • Scientific outreach. The scientific outreach activities and the teaching resources developed during the project will involve several thousand people mainly on the Brittany Ferries lines (20 crossings per year for a target audience of around 4000 children accompanied by their parents) and at the Marinarium in Concarneau.

        The project will start in September 2017. Eric Thiebaut, director of the Station Biologique, is in charge of the project together with our director Bernard Kloareg.

        I think that one of the keys in selecting this project was the scale of the area of Campus Mondial de la Mer, which is a huge employment market. This and the group dynamic during the project’s construction phase.

        Blue Valley is another project that will be integrated into Campus Mondial de la Mer. Currently in France, there are no science parks for marine biotechnologies. Some similar structures have, however, been created in certain maritime regions throughout the world (North Carolina, Maine and Scotland). Blue Valley will be attached to the Station Biologique and be located in Roscoff, but is set to expand across the whole of the Campus Mondial de la Mer area.

        Why Blue Valley? “Valley”, because of the word’s association with innovation and because geographically this is a group of sites located around a “Laber”, a Breton word meaning “maritime valley”. And Blue because it represents marine bioresources. Five companies already have offices in Blue Valley, and a sixth one will be arriving soon. The momentum of the Blue Train project in particular has made all this possible.

        Other projects are currently under consideration for the PIA 3 and are fully in line with the Campus Mondial de la Mer inititiave.


        About Campus Mondial de la Mer:

        Campus Mondial de la Mer is a step towards developing a sustainable maritime economy, or “blue growth”. Its ambition is to make the tip of Brittany THE global centre for studying and making the most of the oceans and seas.
        It is a joint initiative undertaken by the federative structures from Western Brittany’s marine sciences and technologies community: Technople Brest-Iroise and Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique. It brings together universities and engineering schools, companies, national and international research establishments and regional and local authorities at the tip of Brittany. Campus Mondial de la Mer is making coordinated efforts to promote research, bring laboratories and companies closer together, promote research and help SMEs to develop internationally.


        Interviewed by Murièle Couchevellou, head of communication at Technopole Brest-Iroise


      • Published on 08/06/2017
      • Website of the Station Biologique de Roscoff

        Website of the Station Biologique de Roscoff

        Website of Genialg

        Website of Genialg

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