News Economy, Food, General

NordAqua (Towards Versatility of Aquatic Production Platforms: Unlocking the Value of Nordic Bioresources), a Nordic project coordinated by the Molecular Plant Biology Unit of the University of Turku, is seeking new commercial applications from micro and macro algae. In particular, algae have interesting potential for bioenergy, the chemical industry, food production and pharmaceuticals development.

Research for the five-year NordAqua project is based on the long-term basic research of the Molecular Plant Biology Unit of the University of Turku, Natural Resources Institute of Finland (Luke), and other Nordic partners. However, the project will focus on applied research in particular.

“Our aim is to find commercial applications for algae, by isolating valuable components from biomass, for example. Another aim is to increase entrepreneurship related to the blue bioeconomy by providing scientists with training and encouragement in entrepreneurship,” says Academy Professor Eva-Mari Aro of the University of Turku, who leads the NordAqua Project.

Luke launches algae research during spring

Luke contributes expertise in greenhouse and biochemical know-how, and their linkage to algae research, to the project. Key areas of Luke’s expertise include the identification, isolation and purification of bioactive compounds. Luke will launch algae research in its greenhouse in Piikkiö, Finland during the spring of 2017.

“A greenhouse is an extremely favourable environment for year-round algae research and the development of new business, because the full range of key growth factors such as light, temperature and nutrients can be found there,” says Kari Jokinen, Principal Research Scientist, Luke.

Other partners in the NordAqua project are the University of Helsinki, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Universities of Umeå and Uppsala, the University of Bergen, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), and the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture. Both commercial and social actors, including the Smart Chemistry Park (Turku Science Park), MTK (the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners) and Finnish Bioindustries FIB are involved in the project as stakeholders.

The NordAqua Project was granted the status of a Centre of Excellence in research and NOK 30 million in funding from NordForsk, which is governed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

A photobioreactor used in algae cultivation. Foro: Pauli Kallio.

For more information, please contact:
Eva-Mari Aro, Academy Professor, University of Turku, +358 2 333 5931, evaaro(at)utu.fi.
Kari Jokinen, Principal Research Scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland, +358 29 532 6177, kari.jokinen(at)luke.fi.

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