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Marine Biotechnology: Where Ocean Meets Innovation

North Carolina is committed to marine biotechnology job growth.

The state boasts more than 300 miles of Atlantic coastline, 12,000 miles of estuarine shoreline and world-renowned universities, with programs related to marine sciences. That adds up to an ideal place to commercialize technologies from the ocean.

Photos above and below courtesy of UNCW/MARBIONC

A Firm Base for Marine Biotech

North Carolina is among the top three biotechnology states in the nation, with more than 650 companies employing over 63,000 people. Entrepreneurs, scientists and educators statewide are developing marine biotech opportunities in aquaculture, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, natural products, fuel/energy, seafood preservation, fish feed, water-quality testing, waste remediation and bioproducts derived from algae.


Responsible translation of marine bioresources and aquatic life into commercial success is the prime focus of specialty organizations in North Carolina such as the Marine Biotechnology Action Team, the Marine Science and Education Partnership and the Stewards of the Future. These organizations provide mechanisms to  connect investors, researchers, entrepreneurs, business leaders and economic developers.

NCBiotech's Southeastern and Eastern offices also work together with partner organizations to showcase the state’s marine biotech assets and to build related economic development relationships that help companies start and grow in North Carolina.


Economic Development and Commercialization

NCBiotech offers loans and other help to companies and researchers across the state. It also spurred development of the Marine Bio-technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI), which engages scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors to accelerate commercialization of marine products.

Based in Wilmington, MBCOI serves marine biotechnology stakeholders throughout North Carolina and beyond, and is one of the first members of BioMarine’s International Cluster Association (BICA), to forge international business relationships, and advocate for research, development and commercialization of technologies from the sea.

Universtiy of North Carolina Wilmington’s MARBIONC program focuses on translational research, and the CREST Research Park offers world-class wet lab space for researchers, entrepreneurial startups, and existing companies.

 Research and Education

Many North Carolina universities and community colleges offer programs involving marine biotech, and some produce cutting-edge research. Examples include:

  • Brunswick Community College—Supply
  • Coastal Studies Institute—Manteo
  • Duke University Marine Lab—Beaufort
  • East Carolina University—Greenville
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Institute for Marine Science—Morehead City
  • NC State University Center for Marine Science and Technology (CMAST)—Morehead City
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Marine Science and MARBIONC—Wilmington

The N.C. Community College System offers a number of degrees tailored to produce a world-class workforce for marine biotechnology companies, including degrees in aquaculture and marine biotechnology. Additionally, the community college system offers free customized training for employees of North Carolina businesses.