New SEAFOODplus research platform launched

The new SEAFOODplus research platform was officially launced at an event Thursday 26 March 2009 at KoWi in Brussels. Director Tim Hall from DG Research welcomed the platform among the other inititaives to promote good research supported by the EU. Representatives from 14 countries attended the event and expressed enthusiasm for the new initiative. The connection between the former SEAFOODplus project and the new SEAFOODplus research platform was explained in the presentations given, and the activities of the new platform were described. After the presentations a champagne reception celebrated the launching of the platform.

Author: Torger Børresen, DTU Aqua, Denmark

Opening address at the launching event at KoWi in Brussels
After a brief introduction where Torger Børresen welcomed the participants to this historic event, the Director of Directorate E, Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food, DG Research, welcomed the SEAFOODplus research platform as a new and exciting initiative. If successful he would recommend others to establish similar research driven platforms. He could also see the wish to fill gaps between the different technology platforms already established and ERA-nets within the KBBE area. However, he expressed some concerns about the platform being yet another organisation that would forward research priorities. There are already too many sources wanting to impact the research priorities set by the Commission when formulating work programmes.
Dr. Stamatios Varsamos, also from Directorate E of DG Research, likewise considered the SEAFOODplus a valuable initiative for coordinating research within the seafood sector. He appreciated the wish to improve the research collaboration supported by the EU, but pointed to the fact that much more research was supported by the member states through their national funding programmes, and suggested that the SEAFOODplus research platform also would try to impact a better coordination of such sources for funding. Dr. Varsamos had recently changed from DG Mare to DG Research and saw the need for linking the research for seafood to the total value chain from raw material to final product for consumers.
Joop Luten, NOFIMA Marine, and Vice-President of the SEAFOODplus research platform, presented the 'Highlights of SEAFOODplus and the rationale behind the SEAFOODplus research platform', where he gave an overview of some of the most important achievements of the previous Integrated Project SEAFOODplus, and how this prepared the ground for the new research platform. The presentation of all the breakthroughs in research was new to most of the participants, so it created a lot of interesting questions where a deeper understanding of the management of such a big project was requested.
This presentation was followed by a presentation by Torger Børresen, DTU Aqua, and President of the SEAFOODplus research platform, who gave a detailed overview of the vision and the mission of the new research platform. He further highlighted some of the services the platform would offer its members. At the time of the launching event, almost 30 members had already applied for membership, and it was anticipated that at least 20 more members would apply over the next weeks. It was explained how the platform would work in collaboration with existing technology platforms, and in order not to excert unnecessary pressure on the Commission Torger Børresen assured that research priorities would be channeled through the technology platforms and national members' of the Programme Committee, such that a harmony with these inputs could be obtained. He further explained how the platform aimed at assisting its members of forwarding proposals for research projects of high quality.
A representative of one of the technology platforms, EATIP, European Aquaculture and Innovation Platform, Professor Patrick Sorgeloos, Ghent University, welcomed the establishment of the SEAFOODplus research platform, and pointed towards the interest of the processing industry for better support of research and development, which could be obtained through the actions of the new platform. He further emphasised the importance of aquaculture in the future for delivery of raw material to the processing industry and hence products for consumers' health and well-being. He also saw a perfect match between one of the thematic areas of the EATIP, which concered product quality and health issues, with corresponding activities in the SEAFOODplus research platform. He was very satisfied that the new platform had aquaculture as a theme in its strategic research agenda.
The last speaker was Robert Remy from the Belgian consumer association Test-Achats. He supported the new research platform for several reasons, but most important for its promise to disseminate more clear messages about the quality and safety of seafood that was offered the European consumers. He also emphasised the confusion that occurs when conflicting messages were presented between safety and health aspects. A better balance is needed in order to provide a consistent consumption of seafood.
As mentioned above the presentations created a lot of interest in the audience and many adequate questions were asked. The pictures below illustrate how the delegates actively participated in the meeting. After the presentations and the discussions a champagne reception was hosted by the management team of the new SEAFOODplus research platform. This gave the participants the possibility of networking and for exchanging contact addresses for further communication.
Details about the new research platform and information about how to apply for membership is given in the previous news item on this homepage.