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Visionary Concepts for Vessels and Floating Structures

VISIONS is the new ‘think tank’ of the European maritime industry and has implemented an annual process for the definition and validation of visionary concept outlines for vessels and floating structures (i.e. potential products for the next 5-15 years).

Tags: Water


Europe’s maritime industry is at the leading edge of innovations. However, to defend this position, future challenges have to be picked up as early as possible. Many ideas for long-term maritime products and services appear quite futuristic today and are rarely systematically investigated. On the other hand, without such project-based investigation, it is difficult to identify and define the possible R&D tasks necessary before commercialisation. In times of constantly decreasing cycles of technology and increasing speeds of innovation, it is essential to work on future challenges early enough, even if they may appear visionary today.


The project has been implemented to organise a systematic, scenario-based, pre-competitive ‘think tank’ process to increase the number of ideas for potential products, validate them and identify possible necessary R&D efforts early enough to be prepared for future needs. The scenarios, which are input for the annual ‘ideas contest’ and which are created with the help of professional users, enable a link to business reality.

The process, which will be repeated three times during the proposed NoE duration, is open for teams of students and experts from Europe’s maritime universities (annual idea contest and open call for validation experts). The definition of all concept outlines and possible R&D gaps is done based on professional market and society scenarios created in the NoE, which are the basis of the process. The results of the annual process will be presented to the maritime industry, which is invited to team up with the ‘idea-creators’ for further development by annual showcase events and will be used as input for the definition of R&D strategy of the maritime industry, linked to its actual and future European Advisory Council and technology platform structures.

The project will also provide a closer link between the European maritime universities and industry.

Business Area 1: Maritime tourism/leisure
Business Area 1: Maritime tourism/leisure
VISIONS consortium

Description of work

The annual process (‘innovation loop’) has the following elements:

  1. creation of professional market and society scenarios by a dedicated scenario group including external key user interviews
  2. a ‘call for ideas’ answering the scenario challenges to student teams from the European maritime industry. The best five to seven ideas will be short-listed by the core partners and will be subject to further investigations.
  3. evaluation of the short-listed tasks done according to identified tasks and by selected experts (tender process). Compilation of a comprehensive report per idea (including ‘distance to market’)
  4. selection of three winners by a high-level industry jury, with an industry-sponsored contest award and the presentation of all ideas (‘showcase’).
The process is vertically structured and managed in five business areas:

  • maritime tourism/leisure
  • intermodal transport (short sea shipping, inland shipping, deep sea shipping)
  • floating infrastructures

    and horizontally structured in seven expertise fields:

    • market/society needs
    • technical feasibility/design
    • production
    • equipment/systems
    • operation/security
    • infrastructure/logistics
    • safety/environment.

The organisation and main decisions during the project will be done by leading industrial and research core partners.


The expected results are:

  • systematic scenario work in all relevant business areas (‘think tank’ function)
  • a greater number than today of scenario-based visionary concepts, which are discussed, presented and considered by the industry as a basis for further development work, including floating infrastructure projects
  • systematic, project-based early identification of R&D needs
  • closer link and practice-based co-operation between the European maritime industry and the European maritime universities, using the creative potential in an organised and business-relevant way.

VISIONS will keep European maritime industry and R&D resources at the leading edge of innovation for global competitiveness, but also contribute to the quick and sustainable solution of transport problems in Europe.

Business Area 5: Floating infrastructures
Business Area 5: Floating infrastructures
VISIONS consortium