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Australia awards $59 million to seaweed-related research

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 July 2021, at 4:09pm

A range of research projects relating to the development of marine bioproducts from sources such as seaweed have been awarded $59 million in funding from the Australian government.

Dr Pia Winberg and Prof Gordon Wallace
Dr Pia Winberg and Prof Gordon Wallace

© ACES

The project consortium, which consists of 68 Australian and international partners, is being led by Prof Wei Zhang from Flinders University and includes researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES).

ACES researchers will provide bioengineering and biomaterials expertise for the Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre (MB-CRC), bringing together the excellence of fabrication skills at the University of Wollongong with the growing research and industry activity in marine bioresources. The MB-CRC includes research, industry and government partners working collaboratively to expand existing enterprises and drive new, high-value products, commercial technologies and employment opportunities around Australia to meet rapidly growing demand for certified, safe and sustainable products.

Long-term collaborator, Dr Pia Winberg from Venus Shell Systems, has been an integral programme leader in the CRC bid, and will work with ACES researchers to identify new molecules from seaweed for successful biofabrication in clinical applications. TRICEP – UOW’s Translational Research Initiative for Cellular Engineering and Printing – as part of the ANFF Materials Node, will provide expertise in accelerating commercialisation opportunities in 3D bioprinting of seaweed molecules.

Dr Winberg said the Marine Bioproducts CRC will provide a range of opportunities to develop marine bioindustries that are sustainably integrated with the coastal and marine environment.

“I am passionate about the marine farming opportunities we have in the ocean and I believe that sensitively and ecologically incorporating these practices into the ecosystem is a necessary way forward to achieving sustainable products across a number of industries,” she said in a press release.

“It has been so exciting to begin the journey of unlocking molecules from seaweed to improve health outcomes for patients with wounds with ACES. Our continued partnership through the MB-CRC will allow us to build on our research and access advanced tools to develop, refine and validate marine bioproducts in an environmentally and economically sustainable way.

“This is such an opportunity for Australia and especially for the south east coast of NSW.”

ACES director, Prof Gordon Wallace, said this funding would be a boost to the team’s emerging activities in this area.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this exciting project, which brings together a multidisciplinary group of experts to translate opportunities in marine bioproducts,” Gordon said.

“Our leadership and extensive expertise in bioengineering, biomaterials, 3D bioprinting, and the design and development of innovative fabrication hardware will allow us to further our exciting research in the field, and provide significant industry linkages for translation of this research.”