Bigelow Laboratory Receives $4.5 Million in State Funds for Commercialization of Ocean Research
Dr. Graham Shimmield (with Governor John E. Baldacci and Maine Technology Institute President Betsy Biemann) accepting the Laboratory’s MTAF award at the Maine State House on June 9, 2009. Photo by T. Brailovskaya.
June 12, 2009
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME – Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences was awarded $4,453,971 from the Maine Technology Asset Fund, the largest individual amount in the second and final round of awards from the $50 million research and development bond approved by Maine voters in 2007. Governor John E. Baldacci and Maine Technology Institute President Betsy Biemann made the announcement on Tuesday, June 9, 2009.
“These very welcome funds will make it possible for the Laboratory to establish the new Bigelow Center for Blue Biotechnology (BCBB),” said Dr. Graham Shimmield, the Laboratory’s Executive Director. The center will open an important technology transfer and commercialization pipeline for ocean research in the state.”
The center will provide access to frontline research underway at the Laboratory, harnessing the potential of the ocean’s microbial ecosystems to benefit society. It will serve as a gateway for partnerships between the Laboratory and the private sector that will transfer new technologies and develop compounds for commercial applications in biomedical research, biofuels, aquaculture, analytical instrument development, and environmental impact assessment.
The funds will be used to renovate and build facilities that expand and combine two existing research centers at the Laboratory – the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for the Culture of Maine Phytoplankton and the J. J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry -- with a new, state-of-the-art computer cluster for bioinformatics and a single cell microbial genomics center that uses the Laboratory’s transformative technology for DNA analysis of individual cells directly from the environment.
The Lincoln County Economic Development Office has just completed an analysis of Bigelow Laboratory’s economic impact on the mid-coast region showing that the new center will catalyze significant economic growth and provide new jobs in the state’s science and technology sectors. Over the next five years, the Laboratory expects activities at the center to lead to several new patents, intellectual property licensing, product development, and the creation of startup companies, attracting approximately $34 million in new money to the state. Additionally, construction and expansion necessary for the center will generate $3.85 million in revenue in Lincoln County, employ 46 full- and part-time workers, and provide $1.6 million in wages and salaries. The opening of the new facility in scheduled for the summer of 2010.
“The Bigelow Center for Blue Biotechnology will confirm and consolidate existing jobs, create new jobs in Maine’s innovation economy, and facilitate short- and long-term collaboration with visitors and companies from many regions,” added Shimmield. “This represents an essential first phase of the Laboratory’s plans for significant infrastructure development in the years ahead.”
Technology transfer and collaboration with the private sector will be a major part of the new center’s focus. Bigelow Laboratory has a successful history of such partnerships, including a new corporate alliance with Micro Technologies, a private animal health company in Richmond, Maine. Micro Technologies is a leader in the field of aquatic animal health, providing diagnostic and veterinary services to North American and international clients and conducting innovative research into new products. A grant was received this spring from the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program will allow the Laboratory to work with Micro Technologies to develop an experimental biologics production facility at the BCBB that will enable new therapies to be developed for use within the aquaculture industry.
Established in 1974, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a center for global ocean research. An independent, nonprofit research institution, the Laboratory is supported by federal research grants and private funds. The laboratory’s research focus ranges from microbial oceanography -- examining biological productivity in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive interactions between ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions. These programs have taken Bigelow scientists around the world to every ocean and the polar seas.