UMass Dartmouth, Republic of Iceland sign marine science, biotech research agreement

Pact results from 2015 university visit by Iceland delegation and U.S. Ambassador
Robert Barber

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Republic of Iceland today
announced a partnership to advance marine science and marine-related biotech
research and commercialization in recognition of their mutual interest in
sustainable marine-based economies.

Iceland has strengthened its marine economy by modernizing technology and making
maximum use of every fish caught. According to the Iceland Ocean Cluster, the
fishing industry has collaborated with other industries to utilize 95 percent of
each cod they catch. In addition to extracting cod liver oil, a range of cosmetics
and pharmaceuticals are manufactured using the fish skin. UMass Dartmouth
researchers, meanwhile, are working on a range of related research projects, from
new technology to manage fish stocks to biofuels and biodegradable plastics made
from fish waste products.

The partnership is formalized in a memorandum of understanding signed by Iceland’s
Minister of Industry and Commerce Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir and UMass Dartmouth
Provost Mohammed Karim. The agreement stems from a March 2015 visit to UMass
Dartmouth and New Bedford by U.S. Ambassador Robert Barber. Besides promoting
research partnerships, the agreement includes provisions for faculty and student
exchange programs.

“We see this as an opportunity to build a scientific and economic bridge between the
SouthCoast of Massachusetts and Iceland, two communities with deep and historical
ties to the ocean,” Dr. Karim said. “This partnership offers a unique opportunity
for our scientists and students to engage in exciting research and technology
commercialization projects that will strengthen our regional economy and that of
Iceland especially related to the development of new strategies to sustain the
fishing industry.”

“The Icelandic fishing industry has evolved into a thriving knowledge-based
biotechnical industry where previous waste is now a valuable resource for new
developments in several high value disciplines. Increased cooperation with the
University of Massachusetts is a clear win-win collaboration and will open up new
avenues of opportunities in developing marine biomass still further for a wide
ranging benefit for both parties,” says Minister of Industry and Commerce Ragnheiður
Elín Árnadóttir.

In addition to promoting joint commercialization of innovations in marine biotech,
the agreement will also increase research collaboration and open communications
about best practices in the fields of fish stock and ocean resource assessment and
sustainable fisheries.

UMass Dartmouth and the Icelandic Ministry of Industries and Innovation will be
responsible for implementing the memorandum.