USF, Mote Marine Laboratory Sign Landmark Agreement

Partnership will strengthen initiatives for oceans, education and sustainability
June 17, 2009

USF, Mote Marine Laboratory Sign Landmark Agreement

The University of South Florida and Mote Marine Laboratory have signed a landmark affiliation agreement that will allow two of the state’s leading research institutions to join forces in new science ventures, provide expanded learning programs and create economic development opportunities for the region and state.

The affiliation will expand on what has been a growing, three-year relationship between USF and Mote through the Joint Center for Coastal Ocean Studies. The new partnership will allow for the pursuit of new research grants and funding and combine the varied resources of both institutions on projects centered on research, education, community outreach and commercialization of newly developed technologies.

Mote and USF’s College of Marine Science regularly join forces in research on such key Florida issues as red tide, fisheries management, ecotoxicology (the effect of toxic substances on the marine environment) and marine mammal, shark and sea turtle research. The new affiliation agreement expands the formal relationship between the two institutions to include research and technology transfer projects in other disciplines.

“This is an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate with an exceptional group of researchers,” said USF Vice President for Research Karen Holbrook. “It builds a stronger and broader effort for our research efforts and educational activities – from marine science, to engineering, environmental sciences, business and medicine.”

The most immediate project will be collaboration between USF’s Research Park and the Mote Aquaculture Research Park, which will allow USF to integrate new sustainable energy technologies through the Florida Energy Systems Consortium.

“Since 1992 Mote has been committed to developing new ways to farm fish to provide important food resources that don’t harm the environment and has invested more than $15 million in this research,” said Kumar Mahadevan, Mote president. “We think these efforts should also become an important new economic driver for the state of Florida.”

Mote has the nation’s largest research facility dedicated to aquaculture focused on water re-use technologies and the development of sustainable fish farming — an important mission given the world’s dependence on fish as a primary source of protein and worldwide concerns with overfishing. The Park was made possible through community investment from groups like the Mote Scientific Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, which supported the creation of a business plan that made this affiliation possible.

“It’s especially important in these tough economic times that organizations like Mote and USF work together to help improve and diversify the state’s economy through such innovative collaborations,” Mahadevan said. “Our new affiliation with one of the nation’s premiere research universities is timely, given the recent release of Sarasota County’s Economic Strategic Plan, which identifies this aquaculture project as an important economic engine.”