Wednesday, July 17, 2024

International biomarine conference comes to Wilmington

International leaders in marine biology will visit UNCW's CREST research facility Monday as part of a global convention in Wilmington.
International leaders in marine biology will visit UNCW’s CREST research facility Monday as part of a global convention in Wilmington. Photo by Hilary Snow.

The world’s leaders in biotech innovation are converging on the Port City.

Monday, the sixth annual BioMarine Business Convention will wrap up this year’s program of events with three days of sessions in Wilmington. This is the first time the convention has been held in the U.S.

Leaders from 16 countries–Canada, Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Norway, Mozambique, Australia, Belgium, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Mexico, among them–will gather to discuss sustainable ocean harvesting and solutions to address the imminent shortage of protein globally.

Vegetable protein from microalgae and seaweed extract are used to feed not only the aquaculture industry, but also the poultry, pork and cattle industries.

The convention comes to Wilmington through a partnership with the NCBiotech Southeastern office and the Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation.

“The goal of this convention is to foster collaboration on the development of innovative solutions to harvest marine bio-resources in a sustainable fashion, and this program of scheduled events has been clearly designed to do precisely that,” said Randall Johnson, executive director of the southeastern office of the N.C. Biotechnology Center. “It is very exciting to imagine all that can be accomplished over the course of these three days in one of our nation’s major hubs for marine biotechnology in order to responsibly utilize all that the world’s oceans have to offer.”

It kicks off Monday with the Business and Innovation Tour, presented in collaboration with UNC-Wilmington. The tour will give participants the opportunity to get a firsthand look at various research facilities at UNCW’s CREST Research Park, including the Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina Building, Center for Marine Science, shellfish research hatchery and aquaculture building.

Then on Tuesday, Prince Albert II of Monaco will deliver a video message to welcome attendees to the conference, which connects international biotechnology companies and leaders. Following the opening statements, attendees will participate in live-streamed sessions, workshops and networking opportunities through one-on-one pre-scheduled business meetings and social events.

Speakers will present new maritime strategies, possible synergies with N.C. and the lessons taken from China’s success in promoting its marine economy.

Fifteen companies in total will give presentations, including five from North Carolina, four others from the United States and six from other countries.

Local and state officials participating in the three-day summit include Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo; John Hardin, executive director of the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation through the N.C. Department of Commerce; and Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of N.C.

“The representation of North Carolina companies at the convention is a credit to the state’s thriving marine biotechnology industry,” according to a news release. “With more than 300 miles of Atlantic coastline, 12,000 miles of estuarine shoreline and world-renowned universities, North Carolina’s coast, particularly Wilmington, has become an ideal place to commercialize technologies from the ocean.”

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