The European Commission is investing over €7.5 million to boost innovation and create jobs in the marine and maritime sectors. The money is available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and divided in calls for proposal focusing on the key areas where the European Union can have the biggest impact: skills, creativity and technology.
Innovation in sectors like aquaculture, biotechnology or ocean energy is vital for the blue economy to thrive, as recognised by the Commission's Communication on Innovation in the Blue Economy. However, a number of bottlenecks are currently holding back this drive for innovation. They include a lack of highly skilled professionals, under-investment in knowledge and technology, and slow progress from research results to the commercial stage.
Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said:
"With these calls for proposals, the European Commission is taking another step to create the conditions for blue growth in Europe. We are developing skills. We are rewarding creativity. We are boosting technology. Armed with these assets, I am convinced that the European maritime industry can become a global pioneer of blue growth."
The investment earmarked under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will comprise three calls for proposal:
1. Under the Blue Careers call, €3.45 million will be made available to equip job-seekers with useful skills necessary for the marine and maritime economy, re-train those willing to join the sector, and help people already working in the blue economy to progress in their career. It can also be used to make maritime professions more visible and to attract young talent, in particular women.
2. Under the Blue Labs call, which corresponds to €1.7 million, the Commission is promoting innovative "laboratories", where students and recent postgraduates team up with experienced tutors from the local business community and the public sector to address maritime and marine issues. This could mean, for example, developing new technologies to eliminate marine litter like microplastics or nanomaterials; building unmanned robotic systems to discover and protect underwater cultural heritage; or finding out how marine micro-organisms can be used to break down hazardous substances.
3. Under the Blue Technology call, the Commission is putting up a total of €2.52 million to encourage public-private partnerships that will support the transfer of new technologies and research results into commercial applications and coordinate strategic investment at sea-basin level.
Commissioner Vella's Speech announcing the Calls for Proposal.