Innovation Exchange: Marine Bioeconomy

On May 13th we hosted our first Innovation Exchange webinar. Our guest speakers were from two well-known Irish marine bioeconomy companies Jason Whooley, CEO of Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland and Stephen Fitzpatrick, Technical Director from Nutramara. It’s not every day where you have an opportunity to hear from this level of leadership and hear their story of the company’s origin, route to market and considerations for scaling up. Here’s a quick snapshot of our key takeaways.

Let’s start with the commonalities between the companies, they’re both:

  • Dedicated to sustainability and traceability with demonstrable certifications and efforts to design circularity and sustainability within the business.
  • Operate in rural and coastal areas and part of a wider community – reiterating that great companies can come from anywhere on the island of Ireland.
  • Engaging on partnerships with third level institutes on R&D projects which are strategic for their company growth.

What’s so different about them?

  • They are each producing a variety of bio-based products for the cosmetics, functional foods and nutraceuticals markets using different and sustainable sources of feedstock, one uses by-catch and seafood waste and the other uses seaweed biomass.  
  • They hold different places in the value chain, one is B2B and other is B2C.

At the cluster, we are working to help companies overcome shared challenges. We asked what’s needed in the innovation ecosystem in Ireland to help companies get to market faster and overcome risks.

  • They iterated that finding the right financial and equity advisors to support fundraising will lead to breakthroughs, it’s worth spending time on getting this right before making a time consuming mistake.
  • Keep to the core values of your company and find and work with mission aligned third-level institutions and researchers to continue R&D journey to support company growth. Mapping out research capabilities at third-level institutes is helpful.
  • Take opportunities to learn from parallel sectors, in this case the example shared was the dairy industry and how they went about scale-up in the dairy ingredients market.

Programme Supports for Irish Entrepreneurs, Startups and SMEs

There is a number of supports available for companies who are exploring both Circular Economy & Bioeconomy outlined below.

Gordon Bond and team at the Blue Circular Economy project are working on solving the shared problem of managing plastic waste in the aquaculture and fishing community. They’re looking to generate new economic opportunities for marine plastic and providing SMEs with assistance and knowledge dissemination.  Get in touch.

Niall O’Rahelly and the team at Hatch, a mission driven organisation supporting innovation in aquaculture through investments and community activities are hosting an innovation studio workshop in partnership with BIM, to support aquaculture technologists, SMEs and start-ups on their fundraising journey in October a the RDI Hub in Kerry. Learn more on their website.

The FANBEST Project, an Interegg supported initiative is inviting entrepreneurs, SMEs, and startups involved in innovative blue economy projects to take part in a free business coaching and networking programme with experts from the Atlantic Area, led by Amita Guneratnam at Munster Technological University. Learn more on the website.

A recording of the event can be found on our Youtube channel.

Next Steps

We are developing a marine bioeconomy community and strategy at the cluster, it’s important for us the cluster activities meet business needs. If you’re a marine biotechnology company or a marine business looking to understand how to create value from seafood by-product and marine bio-materials, get in touch to join our strategy workshop and benefit from cluster services.

E-mail Catriona Power: info (@)