BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — The nonprofit Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences announced Wednesday that it has moved forward with its plan to create harder ties between its research activities and private industry.

The Bigelow Laboratory, which is in the midst of a major expansion and construction of new headquarters, has for 37 years employed dozens of scientists focused on climate change and ocean health. Sometimes that work leads to innovations that can benefit the private sector, such as a process Bigelow developed for counting single cells which it shared with a Yarmouth firm called Fluid Imaging Technologies.

To foster more mutually beneficial relationships between itself and other organizations, Bigelow has launched its new Corporate Affiliate Program and signed on its first partner, BioProcess Algae, LLC of Portsmouth, R.I. The Rhode Island firm designs, builds and operates commercial-scale bioreactors that cultivate algae for use in food for humans and animals as well as biofuels.

Bigelow President and Executive Director Dr. Graham Shimmield said in a press release that being associated with BioProcess Algae will be beneficial to both organizations.

“We’re looking forward to a very fruitful partnership,” said Shimmield. “The Corporate Affiliate Program was designed to encourage companies to enter into a formal working relationship with us, providing a single interface and road map to the laboratory’s resources.”

Under the program, companies will pay a fee to Bigelow to become members in the Corporate Affiliate Program. Depending on their level of financial support, members will be given advance access to data from Bigelow’s research projects, advance copies of papers on scientific discoveries and access to the expertise and resources of the laboratory. In exchange for those benefits, Bigelow will use the fees paid by its members to support more research all over the world. Bigelow employs approximately 65 people, most of them researchers.

Tim Burns, CEO of BioProcess Algae, said his company is developing a range of products from algae.

“Our current focus is on providing cost-competitive products to the feed and fuel industries,” said Burns. “Since we’ve been working in partnership with Bigelow Laboratory for some time, we felt that it was important to financially show our commitment to the laboratory’s future by becoming a CAP member.”

BioProcess Algae LLC is a joint venture among CLARCOR Inc. (NYSE: CLC), a global provider of filtration products; BioProcessH2O LLC, a wastewater purification technology company; Green Plains Renewable Energy; and the international renewable energy group NTR plc, which builds and runs green energy and resource-sustaining businesses. BioProcess Algae is currently running a demonstration plant at the Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa. Grower Harvester bioreactors have been tied directly into the plant’s carbon dioxide exhaust gas since October 2009.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.