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      • From PhD to industrial partnership: collaboration between Lipidocéan and Diana Pet Food

      • Candidates studying for an in-company doctorate with CIFRE, the Industrial Agreement for Training through Research, help develop innovative industrial projects based on academic research teams sharing their expertise. Cloé Oroy, a PhD candidate based at Diana Pet Food and LEMAR Laboratory of Environmental Marine Sciences, is due to be defend her thesis in autumn. She told us about this collaboration; we also interviewed Fabienne Le Grand, technical director of the Lipidocéan platform.
      • Marine lipids, a fish-based ingredient for healthy ageing

        Due to their positive effects on cognition, omega-3 fatty acids are recommended as a means of reducing the memory problems that can arise with ageing. These essential fatty acids, which are vital, cannot be biosynthesised in significant amounts – if at all – by humans or their pets; they must come from food. If industrial-scale applications are to be developed, a better knowledge of the natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids and a well-structured, sustainable supply chain are key.

        In response to these industry challenges, the innovative BrainBooster collaboration focused on a local resource rich in omega-3 – sardine byproducts – with the aim of developing a new way to add significant value to something currently considered as waste. Ultimately, a healthy ingredient will be developed for use in human and animal nutritional products. This €2.7 million project, scheduled to run from 2016 to 2020, is officially recognised by the Valorial and Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique clusters.

        The company Diana Pet Food joined the project as a partner to develop a new ingredient for its range of health and wellness nutrition solutions. LEMAR is a joint research unit operated by UBO, CNRS, IRD and Ifremer; its Lipidocéan platform specialises in the detailed analysis of marine lipids. They bring knowledge and expertise to the project in terms of marine lipid biochemistry, fish physiology and biotechnology. The aim is to establish an environmentally friendly procedure for extracting marine lipids which will allow an end product to be extracted to precise specifications.

        An in-company doctorate with CIFRE provides an opportunity for industry to get involved in innovative research partnerships

        Cloé Oroy

        In practical terms, a CIFRE grant can be obtained in a mere three months by submitting a three-part application to the Association Nationale Recherche Technologie (ANRT). This should introduce the candidate and their thesis, the research laboratory and the company which will support them.

        ANRT pays the grant once a year for three years, providing financial assistance for the company to hire a PhD candidate and making it eligible for some research tax credit funding. ANRT provides a solid support framework which helps with project implementation and follow-up. Cloé Oroy’s thesis is being coordinated by two academic and two scientific supervisors, including Fabienne Le Grand.

        Oroy alternates between Plouzané (LEMAR) and Vannes (DPF), spending most of her time with the company, working on product development using pre scale-up tools. The PhD candidate soon felt at home both at LEMAR and Diana Pet Food, with suitable office space and support provided in both locations.

        A mutually beneficial model

        This was a win-win arrangement for all involved. For Cloé Oroy, collaboration with LEMAR and the LIPIDOCEAN platform gave her access to knowledge and new skills, and enabled her to meet her industry objectives. She emphasised how beneficial it was: ‘We all contributed our expertise, which grew and enabled us to meet the challenges step by step’.

        For Diana Pet Food, the CIFRE in-company doctorate provides an opportunity to access top-level scientific skills and apply them to a breakthrough technological project, thus gaining a competitive advantage.  This joint research approach helps speed up progress on R&D.

        Fabienne Le Grand says that supervising this dissertation has given her ‘a better understanding of the business world’ and required her to ‘adapt to the everyday realities of the company’. For the laboratory, the benefits are primarily scientific, because this thesis provided an opportunity to explore new, applied avenues for research based on fundamental science which were fully in line with the lab’s research interests. Thus LEMAR expanded its knowledge about omega-3 fatty acids, about biotechnology, physiology and ecology, while simultaneously developing new biochemical analysis methods.

         The next step for Cloé Oroy personally will be to round off this fruitful collaboration when she is awarded her PhD in October.


        Pictures credit: LEMAR.

      • Published on 25/06/2020
Campus mondial de la mer
Technopôle Brest-Iroise
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29280 Plouzané
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