Marine Biomass Innovation (MBI)

Work Package 1: Assessing the socio-economic and community development context for product innovation

Logo created by Rural Resilience member, Chantal Pennell

About the Marine Biomass Innovation Project

Marine Biomass Innovation (MBI) is a multi-year transdisciplinary research project funded by the federal New Frontiers Research Fund-Transformation. The project is focused on western Newfoundland (Newfoundland & Labrador). MBI is a collaborative project involving researchers from five Canadian universities and seven Mi’kmaw governing organizations (Flat Bay Band, Mekap’sk (Northern Peninsula) Mi’kmaq Band, Miawpukek First Nation, Benoit First Nation, Qalipu First Nation, St. George’s Indian Band, and Three Rivers Band). It also involves nine ocean-based enterprises (including 3 Mi’kmaw-owned enterprises), and many other partners. MBI seeks to apply a novel integrated approach for repurposing marine biomass to improve economic sustainability of rural coastal, remote, and Indigenous communities in three specific sub-regions (Bay St. George, Bay of Islands, and Great Northern Peninsula). The project is guided by the concept of Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing, a Mi’kmaw guiding principle aimed at integrating knowledge and experience from both Indigenous ways of knowing and Western science. Therefore, those involved in the project will have to understand, value and integrate the principles of the Etuaptmumk approach.

About Work Package 1

The first of eight major work packages, Work Package 1 aims to develop an understanding of the economic and cultural histories of coastal communities, especially in relation to fish biomass, to determine the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship. The goals of this work package are to develop an understanding of the economic and cultural histories of coastal communities, especially in relation to marine biomass, including: How was biomass managed in the past; what skills and knowledge exist in the community in relation to the ocean and marine species and products; and how could this project be aligned with community desires and positively support regional innovation? We will also explore place-based identities, traditions, and community histories that influence relationships with the ocean and the potential for innovation adoption.


1.1 Document marine relationships

This objective intends to document past and current relationships with the ocean in partner communities, including ocean related industries, their histories, traditions, and identities.

1.2 Assess community assets

Through this objective, we will conduct a community asset assessment to identify existing capacities, entrepreneurial interests, and physical assets.

1.3 Examine governance structures

This objective will identify the types of organizational and governance structures that will advance product innovation.

Research Team

Work Package Leads:

  • Dr. Heather Hall – School of Environment, Enterprise, & Development, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. Kelly Vodden – Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University

Community Researchers:

  • Ivan J White, Mi’kmaw Community Liaison (Bay St. George)
  • Kathryn White, Mi’kmaw Community Liaison (Bay of Islands)
  • Owen Bursey, Mi’kmaw Community Liaison (Great Northern Peninsula)

University Collaborators and Co-investigators

  • Dr. Rainer Baehre – Historical Studies – Grenfell Campus, Memorial
  • Professor Erica Hurley – Faculty of Nursing – Memorial University
  • Dr. Billy Newell – Grenfell Campus, Memorial University

Post-doctoral Fellows and Graduate Students:

  • Dr. Brennan Lowery – Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus, Memorial
  • Seyi Awosiyan – Master of Arts in Environmental Policy Student, Grenfell Campus, Memorial
  • Mostaem Billah – Research Assistant / PhD Student, Transdisciplinary Sustainability, Grenfell Campus, Memorial 
  • Lisa Huang – Master’s Candidate, Economic Development & Innovation, University of Waterloo
  • Chantal Pennell – PhD Student, Transdisciplinary Sustainability, Grenfell Campus, Memorial
  • Brady Reid – PhD Candidate, Sustainability Management, University of Waterloo
  • Avery Velez – Master of Arts in Environmental Policy Student, Grenfell Campus, Memorial