It is an opportunity to discuss barriers to innovation and to identify appropriate solutions founded on marine knowledge, blue skills and smart investment. The Forum is intended not only as a sounding board for industry and a platform for business, science, finance and governments to exchange knowledge and experience, but also as a means for the Commission to get timely input from business. As Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Aguiar Machado said, "We want to know if our research results can inspire the Uber-s and AirBnB-s of the blue economy". He added: "One of Europe's competitive advantages is our commitment to sustainable blue growth. We will continue to rely on seas and oceans to feed, power and heal the world".
Winners revealed for the First Blue Economy Business Awards
The Forum is also hosting the first edition of the Blue Economy Business Awards, which reward scientific and industrial achievements connected to the seas and oceans. The Awards were set up to showcase success stories, from the EU and beyond, that demonstrate how new applications from marine research can produce jobs and growth in the marine economy. The winners in each category of this first edition have just been disclosed.
Category Blue Economy Business of the Year: European Marine Energy Centre, Mr Neil Kermode, United Kingdom
Based in Scotland, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is the world’s leading test facility for wave and tidal energy convertors, i.e. machines that generate electricity by harnessing the power of the sea. To date, more marine energy converters have been deployed at EMEC than at any other single site in the world, with 25 (soon to be 27) different technologies demonstrated for over 16 wave and tidal energy clients (spanning over 9 European countries). This critical mass of activity has catalysed the development of the marine renewables industry locally, nationally and further afield. At UK level, studies show that the creation of EMEC has resulted in a gross value added to the UK of £250 million, with 3,801 full-time equivalent job years created.
Category Woman of the Year in the Blue Economy: SUBMARINER Network for Blue Growth, Ms Angela Schultz-Zehden, Germany
The SUBMARINER Network is a unique platform bringing together blue economy actors from the Baltic Sea Region to jointly promote innovative and sustainable uses of marine resources. Its creator, Angela Schultz-Zehden is also its managing director. Her systematic approach to creating transnational partnerships for jointly initiating, implementing and showcasing projects and actions has proven an excellent way of triggering sustainable blue growth in the Baltic Sea Region, and has now become as a ‘model’ for similar networks in other European sea-basins.
Category Rising Blue Star of the Year: Zensor, MR Yves Van Ingelgem, Belgium
Zensor is a young company established in 2013 and already on the rise. It introduces an innovative concept for maintenance planning and integrity watching into the Blue Economy. The company offers full, remote, sensor-based monitoring solutions for the energy-producing infrastructure applied in the Blue Economy. It focusses on all aspects of material degradation, such as fatigue, corrosion etc. and provides end customers, such as project developers and asset owners, with a one-stop-shop solution for the long-term follow-up of the health of their structures. This pro-active monitoring approach allows owners and operators to detect damages or malfunctioning at an early stage and to have, at all time, a quantitative knowledge of the real age / state of health of their assets. Condition-based maintenance, as opposed to regular, planned maintenance, reduces risks and therefore lowers financing and insurance fees. Moreover it gives a proper view of the real age of structures and is a powerful tool for lifetime extension.