24 April 2018 - The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), based in Abuja, Nigeria, is seeking CABI’s advice on establishing a new national microbial domain Biological Resource Centre (mBRC) where the greatest benefits could be made to Nigeria’s oil industry.
Dr Abayomi Oguntunde, CEO of NABDA, and Dr Gloria Obioh, Acting Director/Head of the Environmental Biotechnology & Bioconservation Department at NABDA, paid a visit to CABI’s Egham office where they discussed their plans for the new resource centre with Dr Dick Shaw, Dr David Smith and Dr Matthew Ryan.
Dr Oguntunde and Dr Obioh, following a stakeholder meeting in Nigeria to see how the mBRC could be created, sought advice from CABI in respect of the design of the facility and a strategy for moving the project forward. The delegation explained that land is available and planning permission has already been granted.
NABDA is the National Focal Institution with the mandate to develop and deploy biotechnology in all its ramifications to support the socio-economic development of Nigeria. The Agency plans the programme ‘Optimising Nigeria’s Microbial Resource in the Niger Delta Region/ Sustainable Microbial Resource Management in the Niger Delta.’
Dr Shaw welcomed Dr Oguntunde and Dr Obioh before leading the discussions which first centred on helping NABDA identify what high-quality organisms – essential for biotechnology and attracting funding for a resource collection – they could focus on.
Opportunities in Nigeria were identified and very quickly it was concluded that in the short-term a focus on oil and wastes degrading microbes with the objective of providing services to Nigeria’s oil industry would have greatest potential. These organisms would be sought from within Nigeria stakeholders, that had already been identified, as well as universities, research institutions and every institution having culture holdings in Nigeria. The target was at least 2,000 strains within the first 2-3 years.
The meeting then sought to develop a draft business plan for the venture.
Dr Smith explained, “The long-term sustainability of an mBRC will require the generation of income lines that are traditionally culture sales, contracted services, contracted research and sponsorship. In addition to this the BRC could seek exploitable Intellectual Property (IP) through the characterisation and screening of its holdings to generate significant income through commercial utilisation if compatible with the CBD and the terms under which it receives strains.
Dr Smith provided a comprehensive business plan which explained that culture collections should explore additional revenue lines to cover BRC running and maintenance costs. Traditional income sources such as the sale of cultures and preservation services, may be insufficient as the culture provision market is competitive not only from other biological resource centres but because more organisms are exchanged between individual scientists free of charge than are obtained from collections..
To support a living collection through culture sales would take a major shift in scientist behaviour, which is impossible for one collection to achieve on its own. Culture sales will remain one source of income but other mechanisms will have to be found.
The BRC’s future relies upon harnessing its full potential and unique position to achieve financial security. After an initial investment to set up, the portfolio of revenue generating activities can gradually be implemented.”
It was suggested that the NABDA mBRC should aim to provide the National Oil Industry with much needed microbial resource services, operating to internationally recognised standards such the International Standards Organization (ISO) standards relevant to microbiological services.
More details on the discussion and CABI’s advice to Dr Oguntunde and Dr Obioh can be downloaded and read from SCRIBD here: https://www.scribd.com/document/377247903/NABDA-discussion-with-CABI-18-April-2018