The European Marine Science Park (EMSP) at Dunstaffnage near Oban is the venue for a three-day international marine science and technology summit this week (20-22 September).
EMSP was developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund. It provides high quality laboratory and office accommodation for new, expanding and inward investing companies.
This week’s Global Marine Sustainability Workshop welcomes representatives from world-renowned institutes specialising in technology and robotics, aquaculture, marine and coastal sustainability and education.
It has been organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands, the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI (SAMS UHI) and the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC), where the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies is located.
HIE is also supporting the event. Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said: “It’s great to see the European Marine Science Park in Argyll as the location for such a significant international event. This supports the growth of Scotland’s life sciences sector, and extends the international profile of the Highlands and Islands. It strengthens the developing marine science cluster at Dunstaffnage, in which SAMS has been a major part. The collaboration between SAMS and UHI, their work on marine science and in bringing this event to the Highlands, also supports the continued development of a strong university sector in the region.”
Staff from several of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ partner colleges will attend the workshop, including representatives from North Highland College UHI’s Environmental Research Institute, Inverness College UHI’s Rivers and Lochs Institute and the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.
The aim is to build connections across the whole spectrum of marine science, but initial focus will be on learning, education and outreach; emerging technologies in aquaculture; and advanced remote sensing capabilities and data science through robotics.
Among the delegates leading the research discussions are: Prof Peter Liss FRS CBE, one of the UK’s leading environmental scientists; Marty Rogers, Director of the Alaska Centre for Unmanned Aircraft System Integration; and Dr Sonia Ortega, Head of the National Science Foundation Europe Office.
During the formal dinner on the evening of September 20, Professor Ian Bryden, the University of the Highlands and Islands vice-principal research, and Dr Luis Cifuentes, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Vice President for Research, Commercialization and Outreach, will on behalf of their respective institutions sign a statement of intention to collaborate.
Professor Bryden said: “Research at the University of the Highlands and Islands draws its inspiration from our unique natural, social and economic environment and this transatlantic gathering represents an internationally significant opportunity to further develop our marine science capability in partnership with our Texan friends. We are looking at a spectrum of capability, from fundamental science to direct commercial application, drawn from each side of the North Atlantic and I fully expect to see great things emerging in the months and years ahead.”
SAMS UHI Director Prof Nicholas Owens said: “This summit is a tremendous learning opportunity for both academic partners. Not only will we learn what we do differently, we will learn what we have in common; our situation in the North East Atlantic and the Harte Research Institute’s setting by the Gulf of Mexico – two areas of great scientific work and joined by the Gulf Stream – make us a great match. We also share common ideas and goals for the sustainable development of a ‘blue economy’ and will explore the potential commercialisation of research and innovation in achieving economic and ecological sustainability in the marine environment.”
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi President Dr Flavius Killebrew said: “We are excited to formalise the already fruitful partnership established between Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the University of the Highlands and Islands and to support the relationship between the SAMS and the Harte Research Institute. Our university will benefit greatly from collaborative research on the summit’s thematic areas - sustainable use of marine resources, sustainable aquaculture and the smart use of autonomous technologies to study and manage marine environments.”