• Programme

Blue Economy Regional Opportunities: An innovative Marketplace


Regional networking opportunities are key to enhancing project synergies. On 20 September 2023, BETA Technological Center (UVIC-UCC), representing the Innovative Sustainable Economy Interreg Euro-MED Mission, attended the Marketplace of Research and Business opportunities in Blue Economy at the Institute de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona, Spain The main blue economy innovation challenges were presented at the event by regional experts, companies, and leading entities in the field. Discussion also centred on European funding opportunities, business opportunities and scientific-technological challenges as well as scientific and technological solutions to the challenges we face. 

The session kicked off with an introduction from Dr Francesc Piferrer, deputy director of knowledge transfer at the ICM. He highlighted the ICM-CSIC’s 70 years trajectory under the slogan “Ocean Research for a Healthy Planet” with a presentation organised around three main challenges: Climate, Life, and Hazards. The ICM-CSIC is engaged in the valorisation and exploitation of results through its Knowledge Transfer Strategy: ICM Transfer tool.  

Mr Jordi Aguasca, director of technological transformation at ACCIÓ, the Catalan agency for business competitiveness, followed up by saying that Catalonia was committed to maintaining and improving on its status as a STRONG INNOVATOR as per the categories of the EU Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS).  The opening concluded with the intervention of Mrs. Ana Castro, vice president of knowledge transfer at the Spanish National Research Council (CISC), who promoted collaborations between the public and private sectors.  

Mrs Rosario Allue, deputy director general of maritime policy at DACC, the Catalan government’s Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, presented the 2030 Maritime Strategy of Catalonia. It is a multi-year strategic plan covering four-year periods, the first being  2018-2021, the second one 2023-2026, and the third 2027-2030. During the first period, several implemented actions have been achieved, highlighting: I) the Catalan Institute of Research for the Governance of the Sea (CATMAR) tool; II) the formation of the Catalan Maritime R+D+I network (BlueNetCat); and III) the development of the Blue Economy Statistics report following EU methodology (EU Blue Economy Report – EUBER).  

Other relevant actions include the creation of three new local fishing action groups (GALP, in Catalan) to cover the whole Catalan littoral, the PESCANETA project and the establishment of closed protected areas from fishing to facilitate the recovery of fish populations. Overall, this is being legally framed within the development of the Law of the Sea (“Llei de la Mar,” in Catalan).  

This session concluded with a presentation by Dr Maria Dolors Nuñez, team leader for analysis and detection of technological opportunities at ACCIÓ, who highlighted important blue economy technologies for the Catalan market such as: Blue biotechnology and algae, pointing towards the EU4Algae EU Maritime Forum; Maritime Transport with zero emissions fuels such as natural gas, ethanol, electric batteries, hydrogen; and Transversal Technologies for aquatic sports with recyclable materials, among others.  

After that, Mrs Jennifer Ruiz, team leader of R+D+I EU programs at ACCIÓ, gave an overview of the EU funding collaboration opportunities and explained the useful repository from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), entitled the Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform, which has a wide variety of resources in this topic.  

Her intervention was followed by Mrs Anna Majó, business innovation director at Barcelona Activa, who emphasised the key role of Barcelona Metropolitan authorities in the blue economy sector, given that the sea is the economic motor of the city. She said: “If there is money, there are opportunities,” and explained the eight acting axis of the Blue Economy Barcelona Activa. In addition, Dr Pablo Bou, business development manager at BlueNetCat, described the seven BlueNetCat Challenges based on the UNESCO Ocean Decade Challenges. 

Finally, 11 scientific-technological solutions were pitched: SAFE SEA; BZEOS; AMAR81; SEABOTS; IQUA ROBOTICA; LOBELIA EARTH; ZYOSH; SEA4VALUE; GOJELLY; ELYSE Energy; and X1 Wind