Recognizing the importance of making science more relevant and accessible to meet societal needs, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has launched two new Centers for Venture Research, specifically geared to translating basic ocean-related scientific research to inform problem-solving, policy, and public awareness. The first two centers will focus on the opening of the Arctic Ocean and seafood security. Rather than a traditional research approach, the Centers will apply business and project management techniques typically used by venture investors.

“As our knowledge, use, and impact on the ocean accelerate, the gap between what is known scientifically about the ocean and how this knowledge is translated into policy, solutions, and public understanding widens,” explained Dr. Graham Shimmield, executive director of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. “Our new Centers for Venture Research (CVR) fill this knowledge gap by translating basic ocean-related scientific research so that it can be used to help develop ocean-based products and solutions, craft policy, and inform those who care about the ocean. “Advancing seafood security and understanding the consequences of ongoing changes in the Arctic Ocean are but two of many complex challenges that require novel thinking and approaches. Venture research helps meet these challenges by matching the best available science and technology with the interests of investors (private donors and industry), shareholders (foundations and non-governmental agencies), and consumers (policymakers and the public). This match supports informed decision-making, which results in beneficial, scientifically based outcomes.”

The CVR concept applies the very same techniques used by venture investors to the translation of basic ocean-related: detailed and comprehensive knowledge of the existing market, niche differentiation, clarity of objective defined through project milestones, and excellent, timely project and communication management. This approach moves the science past focusing solely on problems toward identifying beneficial outcomes. According to Shimmield, the Centers represent a major commitment to taking the laboratory’s cutting-edge, publicly funded research into a new solution-based direction to create a novel paradigm for the broader impacts of research. 

Bigelow Laboratory scientists have been conducting research in the Arctic Ocean for more than two decades and have the expertise to develop science-based problem- solving, solutions, and policy as the Arctic Ocean undergoes unprecedented changes in the years ahead. TheCenter for Venture Research on the Opening Arctic Ocean capabilities run the continuum from documenting and forecasting environmental changes, to assessing the ecological impacts of increased Arctic activities, to developing the best scientifically based solutions for specific problems.  Dr. Christoph Aeppli, a marine chemist and senior research scientist at the laboratory, is director of this Arctic- focused center. 

For the past 40 years, scientists at Bigelow Laboratory have been involved in seafood safety, sustainability, and enhancing the value of seafood products. Expertise includes identification of emerging threats to seafood security, investigating relevant environmental factors, and developing solutions that optimize these valuable food sources.  This expertise will be available through the Center for Venture Research on Seafood Security, whose capabilities range from assessing ecological implications of wild harvest and aquaculture, to analyzing safety of seafood for consumption (for toxins, diseases, and pollutants— including nanoplastics), to counseling on use of state-of-the-art techniques to maximize seafood flavor and nutritional value, to providing the latest scientific knowledge about what might be done to ameliorate declining ocean conditions. Dr. Nichole Price, a marine benthic ecologist and senior research scientist at the laboratory, is director of this seafood security-focused center.  To read more, click here.

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