Marseille, France - 16th & 17th April, 2019
The Mediterranean Blue Growth community met for the 6th time on the occasion of the capitalization and community event on “Strengthening the Science-Practice-Policy Interface in Blue Growth” last 16th & 17th of April 2019 in Marseilles, France. This conference was organized in the framework of the Interreg Med Blue Growth Community and gathered about 80 participants from both shores of the Mediterranean representing a wide diversity of stakeholders i.e. from researchers to policy makers and contributors from blue economy sectors. All participants contributed to share and identify better methods and tools for successful knowledge and technology transfer to practice and policy-making.
During the first day, the debates addressed the main barriers for innovation in the Blue Economy, such as the difficult access to finance for projects coming from emerging sectors, regulatory uncertainty or the lack of understanding between inventors and investors. To meet these challenges, new financial tools and regulatory approaches should be set, as well as assessment tools to measure the full and impact of a project both pre- and post-implementation.
Presentations from Blue Growth Community actors – the Blue Italian Growth Technology Cluster (BIG-TC), the PELAGOS and 4Helix+ projects – illustrated the key role of clusters in supporting cross-linkage and communication between the civil society, academia, the private sector and decision-makers to tackle these challenges and meet market expectations.
A session dedicated to decision-makers’ viewpoints presented some initiatives such as the Bologna Charter which aims at strengthening the role of coastal administrations in the context of European policies and initiatives at Mediterranean scale regarding coastal protection, integrated coastal zone management, and adaptation to climate change. It also aims to help attain diversified funding resources with a high capacity of mainstreaming, and various projects such as the Co-Evolve (Interreg Med), Co-Evolve4BG (ENI CBC Med) and MedCoast4BG (Union for the Mediterranean labelled) have actually been inspired on the Charter’s grounds.
Various tools and levers to strengthen the interface between science, practice, and policy were presented through activities from the iBlue, MAESTRALE and MISTRAL projects such as the implementation of living Labs or innovation incubators. The BIG-TC displayed its three year-action plan addressed to policy-makers, aiming at establishing the Italian marine renewable energies (MRE) national hub, boosting Italian MRE Technologies and developing an energetic archipelagos.
The Neptune Blue Growth accelerator then showed its good practices as it provided a unique opportunity for small and medium enterprises, entrepreneurs and would-be-entrepreneurs to get direct financial support of vouchers up to €60,000. Furthermore, NEPTUNE enhanced access to a wide range of professional coaching and mentoring services to develop innovative technologies, services and products in the Blue Growth Sector.
The last session of the day focused on the further scientific developments required to enhance the development of the Blue economy in the Mediterranean region, and the limitations of the current policies. Various ideas, tools and initiatives were presented by contributors from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and the EU Commission’s Joint Research Center at Ispra (Italy). Respectively, underlining the current gaps in some blue sectors in terms of policy and implementation coordination as some of them such as MRE are very fragmented, but also presenting efficient tools for the further development of the blue economy though regional smart specialization strategies and the mainstreaming of European funds. Representatives from the BlueMed Initiative, the WestMed Initiative Assistance Mechanism’s French National Hub, and the Union for the Mediterranean completed the discussions, presenting their respective works and underlining how they complement one another, aiming at a true coordination between governance actions throughout the Mediterranean and in an inclusive way.
The second day of the event started with a session dedicated to funding issues, which first debate revolved around ways to improve funding research programs for blue sectors and paths to facilitate access to research finance and innovation projects.
As for the second session, it shared tools and practices regarding awareness raising for innovative education and training models towards a more efficient Science-Practice-Policy interface. Two round tables allowed the participants to exchange views about the themes that will compose the Blue Growth Community Summer School program to take place from 1st to 5th of July 2019 in Kotor, Montenegro.
To conclude from these fruitful discussions, one could underline that in order to foster the blue economy, the integration of science into policy and practice to support evidence-informed decision-making is essential. The coordination and complementarity between initiatives and strategies is also key to ensure a true impact on the territories. In that sense, this event constituted a platform for researchers, investors, funders, the industry, the public and private sectors and other stakeholders to bridge science to policy and practices frameworks through the exchange of knowledge and data with the final aim to tackle sea and land-based challenges jointly.
Don't hesitate to have a look at the speakers' presentations, which are available here.
The Blue Growth Project counts with a €1,47 million funding in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation project Interreg Med.The Blue Growth Community comprises the projects:iBlue, MAESTRALE, Proteus, PELAGOS, 4Helix+ and MISTRAL.
Blue Growth Community Summer School – SAVE THE DATE – Next July 01-05, 2019 in Kotor, Montenegro. Stay tuned!
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