WG of support, development and innovation (SDI)

WG of support, development and innovation (SDI)


Working group of support, development and innovation (SDI) is a group, which combines administrative and research expertise and competences.



Staff members
Other activities


Fields of expertise, activities and research


Working group of support, development and innovation (SDI) is a group, which combines administrative and research expertise and competences.


SDI activities include, but are not limited to:

-       Financial and administrative management of the national and international projects.

-       Management and maintenance of the facilities of Marine Biology Station.

-       Promotion of so-called soft skills (for example, science communication, teamwork etc.).

-       Promotion and ensurance of gender equality and equality and diversity in general.

-       Identification of research fields with high potential, but low level of national, regional and/or international exploitation (such as Blue Biotechnologies).

-       Awareness raising and promotion of innovation.

-       Management of Marine Biology Station rooms and apartments.

-       MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions).

-       Coordination of Marine Biology Station educational activities.



Staff members


Gašper Polajnar, Undersecretary, Head of WG of support, development and innovation (SDI) 

Head of working group. An economist with a Msc. in management. His work focuses primarily on preparing annual financial and business plans for Marine Biology Station Piran (MBS), monitoring and analysing business results, proposing and planning annual investments and monitoring their implementation, collaborating and advising the management of MBS, preparing various business and financial reports, and providing financial and administrative management of development and research projects.


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Eylem Atak, Young researcher 

She is PhD student at Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School (IPS). She is interested in obtaining bioactive substances from plants and marine organisms.


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Tadej Gračner, Associate 

He is an associate at MBS and a master’s student in tourism program at the University of Primorska (Slovenia). He holds a bachelor degree in Tourism. His work is focused on coordination of accommodation facilities, education facilities and MICE organizations.


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Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič, Associate 

She is a project associate at MBS and a PhD student in management programme at the University of Primorska (Slovenia). Her activities are focused on the management of EU funded projects.


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Ana Rotter, Senior Research Associate 

She is a microbiologist with a PhD in statistics at the MBS. Her research includes marine biotechnology, data visualization and analysis and network analysis. She is passionate about science communication, project management and applied sciences.


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Anja Sergaš, Project Associate 

Anja is an administrative assistant at MBS. She graduated management studies at the University of Primorska. Her work is based on the administrative support of the European projects.


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Marko Tadejević, Senior Professional Associate 

He is responsible for managing and maintaining the facilities of MBS.


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Jan Ulčar, Senior Professional Associate 

He is a Senior Professional Associate at MBS. He holds a bachelor degree in Biology and master degree in Molecular and Functional Biology from University of Ljubljana. His work is focused on the marine biotechnologies and science communication.


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ARIS Research Programme


Marine and microbial biotechnology


The Research Programme »Marine and microbial biotechnology« focuses on marine and extreme environments related to low water activity, which are largely unexplored, unexploited and undervalorized. Our vision is to become the regional leaders in marine and extreme biotechnology. To achieve this, we will connect research groups and stakeholders to form national and international collaboration networks tackling acute societal challenges, providing concrete new and innovative solutions, products, and processes.


Duration: January 2022 – December 2027

Project team: Ana Rotter, Eylem Atak, Katja Klun, Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič.

Links: Website.


ARIS Research Project


Biotehnological potential of selected microorganisms from Sečovlje Saltpans for application in cosmetics products


The overall objective of the proposed research is to develop the procedure to enhance the production of the known and novel compounds of high biotechnological value from selected microorganisms in Sečovlje Saltpans to be used as ingredients in cosmetic products. Specific objectives are:

(1) Assessment of microbial biodiversity of Sečovlje saltpans to provide basis for future work on characterization of species with biotechnological potential.

(2) Optimization of microbial growth of the selected microorganisms and optimized biosynthesis of selected compounds, including of laboratory- and pilot-scale cultivation ponds and biomass harvesting;

(3) Optimization of the extraction and purification protocols of bioactive compounds with a biotechnological potential;

(4) Prototype production of a new cosmetics line based on isolated ingredients from the microbial biomass.


Duration: October 2022 - September 2025

Project team: Ana Rotter, Eylem Atak, Katja Klun, Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič.






1.    CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research (CHANGE), H2020


The main aim of CHANGE is to support research organisations in implementing equality plans. This will be achieved through the involvement of key actors, known as transfer agents, within each organisation who will work with core consortium partners to share co-produced equality knowledge within their institution. This innovative approach will ensure the promotion and sustainable institutionalisation of the gender equality plans beyond the project lifetime.


Duration: may 2018 - october 2022

Team: Ana Rotter, Katja Klun, Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič and Gašper Polajnar.

Links: Website and Twitter.


2.    A gelatinous solution to plastic pollution (GoJelly), H2020


The goal of the GoJelly project is to develop, test and promote a gelatinous solution to micro plastic pollution through the development of a TRL 5-6 prototype micro plastic filter (GoJelly) for commercial and public use, where the main raw material is jellyfish mucus. In doing so, the consortium addresses two environmental problems with one approach by removing commercially and environmentally destructive marine and coastal pollution from both jellyfish and microplastics. The by-products of GoJelly biomass also have other uses, so GoJelly also delivers a green innovation that leads to a novel, valuable resource for the food and feed industries, as well as an agro-biological fertilizer for organic farming.


Duration: january 2018 - december 2021

Team: Ana Rotter, Katja Klun and Tinkara Tinta

Links: Website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


3.    CA18238 - European transdisciplinary networking platform for marine biotechnology (Ocean4Biotech), H2020


The overall goal of Ocean4Biotech is to bring together experts in the field of marine biotechnology, to provide a platform for the exchange of experiences, knowledge and technologies, and to design a roadmap for a more efficient and faster development of marine biotechnology research in Europe and beyond. To our knowledge, such a large, diverse and geographically dispersed network of marine biotechnology experts does not exist. Since marine biotechnology is still in its infancy, we believe that this is the optimal time to create this efficient, operational, motivated, inclusive and sustainable network with a serious and ambitious commitment to proactive dissemination and science communication activities.


Duration: october 2019 - october 2023

Team: Ana Rotter, Katja Klun and Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič

Links: COST website, website and Twitter.


4.    Building the blue biotechnology community in the Mediterranean (B-Blue), Interreg MED


The exploitation of marine bio-resources through biotechnological solutions is a field with massive potential for innovation and economic growth. This field is a relatively young discipline, so opportunities and key enabling factors need a coordination. The B-Blue project aims at gather the key actors of the Med BBt sector and increase their innovation capacity and coordination in order to unlock the innovation potential in this field through joint transnational initiatives, involving also organizations from the Southern Shore of the Mediterranean.


Duration: september 2020 - june 2022

Team: Ana Rotter, Anja Sergaš, Jan Ulčar and Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič

Links: Website and Twitter


5.    Community4Nature, Interreg EURO-Med 


Community4Nature aims to achieve coordination -among different levels- of knowledge, best practices & policies to approach the challenges of biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation/adaptation. It enhances the coordination between multi-level stakeholders such as public authorities, sectoral agencies, schools, academic & research centers, NGOs, etc. in the Med area. Concretely, Community4Nature will establish a Community of Practice and deliver an Adaptive Resource recipient, a Methodology for assessing the potential of available community "resources", a set of training programmes, a portfolio of services embedded in the Community Amplification Room including a Mentorship programme addressed to specific target groups.


According to the coupled philosophy of "resource valorization", Community4Nature always exploits, reuses, reshapes the available knowledge, the existing practices and infrastructure (produced by Euro-MED thematic and strategic projects) to avoid the duplication of efforts and to amplify the results.


Duration: January 2023 - December 2029

Project team: Ana Rotter, Anja Sergaš and Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič

Links: Website and Facebook


6.    WNBLUE - Empowering Women and Mainstreaming Gender Equality in the Blue Economy, EMFAF 


The project WINBLUE intends to accelerate the empowerment of women in the blue economy through facilitating their participation in five different sectors revolving around the conservation and sustainable use of the aquatic resources: circular blue bioeconomy and biotechnology, aquaculture and fisheries, offshore renewable energy, sustainable coastal tourism, cutting-edge enabling technology for protecting and restoring marine ecosystems. The project also implements a data collection and monitoring strategy to both benchmark and monitor the evolution of the level of gender inclusiveness in the blue economy sectors and fill the data gaps that still exist. This complements a comprehensive identification and assessment of highly replicable good practices which can easily be adopted and transferred to different sectors and types of organisations.


Duration: maj 2023 - april 2025

Project team: Ana Rotter and Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič

Links: Spletna stran and Facebook





1. ROTTER, Ana, BACU, Ariola, BARBIER, Michèle, BERTONI, Francesco, BONES, Atle M., CANCELA, M. Leonor, CARLSSON , Jens, et al. 2020. 'A New Network for the Advancement of Marine Biotechnology in Europe and Beyond'. Frontiers in Marine Science 7: 278. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00278.

2. ROTTER, Ana, BARBIER, Michèle, BERTONI, Francesco, BONES, Atle M., CANCELA, M. Leonor, CARLSSON, Jens, CARVALHO, Maria F., et al. 2021. 'The Essentials of Marine Biotechnology'. Frontiers in Marine Science 8: 158. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.629629.

3. ROTTER, ANA, GAUDÊNCIO, Susana P., KLUN, Katja, MACHER, Jan-Niklas, THOMAS, Olivier P., DENIZ, Irem, EDWARDS, Christine, GRIGALIONYTE-BEMBIČ, Ernesta et al. 2021. 'A New Tool for Faster Construction of Marine Biotechnology Collaborative Networks'. Frontiers in Marine Science 8: 530. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.685164.

4. ROTTER, ANA, and GOSTINČAR, Cene. 2014. 'A Defense of Eastern European Science�. Science 343 (6173): 839. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.343.6173.839-a.

5. ROTTER, ANA, KLUN, Katja, FRANCÉ, Janja, MOZETIČ, Patricija, and ORLANDO-BONACA, Martina. 2020. 'Non-Indigenous Species in the Mediterranean Sea: Turning From Pest to Source by Developing the 8Rs Model, a New Paradigm in Pollution Mitigation'. Frontiers in Marine Science 7: 178. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00178.





Beit Berl College (BBC), Israel

CA18238 management Committee members

Institute of Culture and Memory Studies, Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Science and Arts

Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM), Germany

Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ), Austria

National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), Italy

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway

SINTEF Ocean (SINTEF), Norway

The Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Greece

The National Research Council (CNR), Italy

University of Aveiro (UAVR), Portugal

University of Vienna, Austria

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

The Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, Germany

Faculty of Science, Charles University, Czech Republic

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering (UL FGG), Slovenia

University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty (UL BF), Slovenia

University of Maribor, Faculty of Natural sciences and Mathematics (UM FNM), Slovenia



Other activities



1.   Community of Practice for Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe (GEinCEE)


The CoP gathers practitioners - representatives of higher education institutions (HEIs), research and study centres, research funding organizations (RFOs), policy-making organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and entrepreneurships operating mainly in Central and Eastern European countries, who commit to promote institutional change to advance gender equality in their organizations.

Representative: Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič

Link: CEinCEE



2. Alternative Infrastructure for Gender Equality (Alt+G)


This is a Community of Practice (CoP) of various academic institutions in Slovenia interested in implementing gender equality policies at their institutions. Since no institution in Slovenia has a gender equality office (er), the focus of CoP Alt+G is to create an alternative institutional infrastructure for sharing knowledge, experiences and strategies for implementing gender equality policies at institutional and national level. The plan is to expand Alt+G to the region of the former Yugoslavia where the structural context is most similar.

Representatives: Ana Rotter, Katja Klun in Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič.

Link: Alt+G








In the photos (left to right and top to bottom):


1. Group photo WG of support, development and innovation (SDI) (Photo: archive MBS)

2. Working in the laboratory (Photo: archive MBS) 

3. One of the workshops during the Researchers' Night 2013 at the Marine Biology Station Piran (NIB) (Photo: Vladimir Bernetič)

4. One of the workshops during the Day of open doors of the Marine Biology Station Piran (NIB) (Photo: Vesna Flander Putrle)

5. CHANGE workshop (CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research), September 2020 (Photo: Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič)

6. CHANGE workshop (CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research), September 2020 (Photo: Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič)

7. Ocean4Biotech Working Group 3 Workshop, February 2020 (Photo: Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič) 

8. Ocean4Biotech Conference, February 2020 (Photo: Ernesta Grigalionyte-Bembič)