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Brunswick Community College has been awarded two grants totaling $222,502 from the North Carolina Community College System BioNetwork.
The money will help the college continue the Aqua-Biotech Initiative, which will provide Brunswick County with a skilled workforce and new business opportunities in the fields of pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, biofuels and 21st century aquaculture.
The grants are part of $ 1.4 million given to 15 community colleges by the NCCCS BioNetwork on Aug. 15. BCC will use most of the money for the development and support of a large-scale culturing system for tilapia and algae for biodiesel production. Approximately $36,000 will be used to convert a classroom into a lab area for students.
The NCCCS BioNetwork awarded BCC more than $200,000 in 2007 to pay for the first phase of the biofuel project, which included constructing the tanks for culturing algae. The next phase of the project will focus on extracting oil from the algae and converting it into diesel fuel.
Brunswick Community College began offering a degree in biotechnology in the fall semester of 2007. This new program in biotechnology complements an already existing and successful aquaculture technology program.
With its coastal location, BCC can now offer a unique opportunity for students and help create an industrial niche in the county not found in any other region in North Carolina. Brunswick Community College Aqua-Biotech graduates could help create new pharmaceutical products, alternative feed stocks for biofuels and farm-raise seafood to supply the local and even national tourism trade.
NCCCS BioNetwork awards the grants to help bolster North Carolina’s aptitude to offer the specialized education and hands-on training needed by workers to find employment in the highly-regulated biopharmaceutical industry. The funds come from a state appropriation for North Carolina Community College System BioNetwork.