Background and description

Over the last decade of the 20th century, marine research institutes and postgraduate training organisations in Brittany have joined together in a “Blue Network” (20 members), an informal coordination structure. This network has played a key role within the region to purchase specific equipment (for instance a coastal oceanographic vessel from INSU-CNRS to work along the Channel coastline, co-funded by the Brittany Regional Council) or shared equipment (for instance the La Pérouse Library, joint between Ifremer, IUEM-UBO and IRD).

Brittany was also successful with respect to the 6th Framework Program of the European Union in Marine Science and Technology. 3 Networks of Excellence (REX : Marine Genomics Europe, EUR-OCEANS, ESONET), 2 Integrated Programs (IP : MERSEA et SPICOSA) and 1 ERANet (EUROPOLAR), all led by researchers based in Brest or Roscoff (Finistère), were supported by the European Commission, leading to the foundation of Europôle Mer (EM) in 2004.    Besides their solid research activity, numerous partners from Europole Mer and in particular Ifremer, the European Institute of Marine Studies and the Biological Station of Roscoff, are well interfaced with the industry thanks to their participation in the Pôle Mer Bretagne, an economic competitiveness cluster with a global remit that gained recognition by the French Government in 2005. The coordination of the various scientific strategies of the Europole Mer members was further emphasised throughout the preparation of two major projects:- The Project plan Contract between the French Government and the Brittany Region- The application to the French Government for recognition as a Thematic Network of Advanced Research ("Réseau Thématique de Recherche Avancée (RTRA)" submitted in September 2006). Europole Mer was not selected as a RTRA network by the government, however the application was well evaluated and was transformed into the Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique (GIS) Europole Mer which started early 2007. The main institutions dealing with research, education, valorisation, and scientific communication to a wider public on Marine Science and Technology in Britanny are part of Europôle Mer and are: