Scientist Jan Arne Arnesen and his colleagues in Nofima work with the industry to identify bioactive components from fish and other marine organisms.
Scientist Jan Arne Arnesen and his colleagues in Nofima work with the industry to identify bioactive components from fish and other marine organisms. Photo: Lars Åke Andersen

Marine biotechnology

Nofima research contributes to an increase in the value and use of marine raw material.

We offer

  • Developing new processes for optimum utilization of raw materials for new products
  • Transferring projects from the laboratories to larger-scale production
  • Identification of specific components from marine raw materials
  • Prototype production of new products
  • Processing of marine raw materials into high-value products
  • Total utilization of the raw materials
  • Conducting consumer trials and assessing market opportunities for new products
  • Business-oriented research adapted to individual businesses’ needs

Some achievements

  • We have shown how components in shrimp shells can lower blood pressure
  • We have successfully extracted proteins and oils from show crab shells The oil can be used in health supplements, and the proteins can be utilized in the ingredient industry
  • We have developed a neutral-taste protein powder from cod backs and cod heads
  • We have isolated collagen peptides from the skin of a number of fish species
  • We have developed efficient processes for isolating and using chitin and chitosan

We use a project-based approach in working with residual raw materials from the main seafood manufacturing operations. In addition, we work with new species, such as algae and low-trophic level species, and species that have not previously been farmed or fished for.

Our researchers have extensive experience in isolating and identifying valuable components from marine raw materials, as well as in developing processes that make it possible to leverage these components on a large scale against the market.

We work with bioprospecting, bioprocessing, process scaling and developing commercial products for utilizing marine raw materials, with a focus on maximizing utilization of the raw material.

We work with the entire value chain from when the raw material is made available to us, to when we have developed a prototype that can be tested on the market.

Nofima places great importance on interdisciplinary research. This means we work closely with market, consumer and innovation researchers, tasting panels and researchers investigating bioactivity and the development of food and health food products, as well as feed for a number of species.

We are committed to ensuring the correct quality of the raw material, that the processes are economically feasible, that the raw material can be handled and transported safely, and that the products are in compliance with the given regulatory frameworks. This way we can ensure maximum utilization of all the raw materials for the best possible uses.

Great potential for marine raw materials

Residual biomass and little-used raw materials from fisheries and aquaculture provide substantial opportunities for increased utilisation and incomes. In addition, as an increasingly large amount of unused biomass and new species become available, they will also require new processes and methods to be utilised properly.

There is a potential for increased utilization, and by extension increased profits, in many of the marine industries. There is also a greater focus on managing the existing resources properly, particularly here in Europe, where we are highly dependent on importing proteins and fats for food and feed production.

Within the white fish industry, more than 40% of the residual biomass remains unused. In the aquaculture industry too, there are high-quality raw materials that are not utilized. In the pelagic fisheries sector, which has seen an increasing level of processing activities taking place in Norway, there is still a lot of unused residual biomass.

In the shellfish industry it is not uncommon to be left with more than 30% residual biomass which is left unused or used only in low-cost products.

Nofima is also involved in projects dealing with the use of macro and micro algae, mesopelagic species and new low-trophic species. Our research indicates that a lot of marine raw material has great opportunities for better utilization for improved economic gains. In order to achieve this, we need to ensure that the raw materials have a quality consistent with the product we wish to make, within the existing regulatory frameworks and legislation which is in place in different regions. In addition, we need to make sure there is a market for the new products before scaling up the processes.

Our research has laid the foundations for a number of commercial endeavours and new businesses. We cooperate closely with private businesses, universities and university colleges both on a national and international level.

Marine bioprocessing

At the National facility for marine bioprocessing we help companies to step up from lab scale research into advanced products at a small industrial scale.

At the National facility for marine bioprocessing we help companies to step up from lab scale research into advanced products at a small industrial scale. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen © Nofima

Bioprocessing involves the use of biological components (such as enzymes) in the processing of marine biomass in order to extract high-value products such as proteins, oils, peptides, antioxidants and other components. Our research is primarily based on raw materials sourced from the sea, whether it be fish, sea urchins, crabs or algae.

Nofima is running the national facility for marine bioprocessing, Biotep, in Kaldfjord outside Tromsø. The facility is a mini-factory where we can help high-tech companies transfer research results from the laboratories and produce advanced products on an even larger scale.

Biotep can help companies introduce their products to a larger market. The advantage of such demonstration facilities is that it enables companies to try out new processes and new products in the market, without having to make massive investments in infrastructure. This means Biotep can provide risk relief for innovative businesses. We are continuously working to improve and upgrade Biotep with new infrastructure and new measurement and evaluation methods.

Marine bioprospecting – Biodiscovery

Nofima has experience in identifying various bioactive components or specific desired effects in marine raw materials that may have commercial potential – such as bioactivity, digestibility, fitness for food products and effects in the feed.

We work with hydrolysates, extracts and individual components from marine sources for use in food and health supplements, as well as ingredients used in food, feed and cosmetics.

We take an interdisciplinary approach to ensure maximum utilization of the raw material, and to ensure that the identified components can have a commercial potential through scalable processes and market potential for new products.

At Nofima, we have access to a great number of bioactivity analyses associated with health, food and feed, and we work actively to collaborate with other universities and institutions – on a national and international level – in order to ensure that we utilize the raw materials in the best possible ways.

Read more about:

Creating Value

Some results from scientific projects in marine biotechnology

World-leading crab research


Nofima is the world-leading interdisciplinary research group for red king crab and snow crab.


Cool collagen research


Supplements containing collagen are in great demand. The fishing and food manufacturing industries can now also profit from this protein.


Focus on fish powder


Nofima and Myre Havbruk AS are working on a product that could enable protein powder from fish to achieve much higher prices.


See more examples of Creating Value

Related content

  • Research facilities


In our flexible mini-factory high technology companies can test and optimize their processes to extract all desired components from marine- and plant-based biomass.