‘Blue bioeconomy’ centre awarded industry collaboration prize

Sustainable new products made from seaweed, from fast food wrappers to disease-fighting medicines, has seen Flinders University’s Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development (CMBD) – Driving Australia’s Blue Bioeconomy project win the Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration category at the 2022 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards.

Led by Director Professor Wei Zhang, the centre is pioneering the innovations to establish a new Australian marine bioproducts industry – with South Australia at its centre.

The oceans around Australia are abundant with extraordinary bioresources, including fish, coral, seaweed, crustaceans, sea sponges and sea cucumbers.

The CMBD works collaboratively with South Australian industry to transform these sustainable materials into high-value products such as medicines, biodegradable plastics, bio-inks, nutrition drinks, and eco-friendly fertilisers.

“Using ’green chemistry’, our dedicated staff and research students develop advanced manufacturing processes to reduce waste, water, energy use, and the need for harmful chemicals, supporting industries to transform into a circular bioeconomy,” says Professor Zhang.

By connecting South Australia with international partners, the CMBD has developed 21 new products, generated more than A$50 million research and development income and more than $200 million economic value, facilitated investment decisions of $1 billion for 20+ industry partners, with 10 from South Australia, since 2010.

The CMBD has led the establishment of a new $270 million Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre, which is expected to generate $8.6 billion for the Australian economy, create more than 26,000 new jobs, and develop new, exciting products that protect our health and our environment by 2035.

The CMBD’s win is a standout from a strong field of Flinders University finalists in the awards, including:
• SA Scientist of the Year Finalist
      – Professor Corey Bradshaw
• SA Innovator of the Year Finalists
      – Be Well Lab Team lead by Dr Dan Fassnacht, Dr Kathina Ali, Matthew Iasiello, Joep van Agteren and Gareth Furber,
      – 3RT team of Professor David Lewis and Associate Professor Jonathan Campbell
• Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration Finalists (category won by Flinders CMBD)
       – Shark Safe Consortium Professor Charlie Huveneers and team
• PhD Research Excellence Finalist
      – Dr James Dorey

Dr Chelsea Thorn (UniSA) was overall winner of the PhD Research Excellence Award. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Chronic Condition Management from Flinders University (GradCertChronicCondMgmt ’16).

The SA Scientist of the Year 2022 is Professor Maria Makrides, based at the SA Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide, who is also a former Flinders University staff member and alumna ((BNutDiet(GradEntry) ’91, PhD(Med) ’95). 

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Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development Research