The IPBN is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland under the ESP Grant programme
To help broaden our understanding of the Blue Economy in anticipation of the IPBN's upcoming Blue Economy Conference on September 30, we're bringing you news from the industry on investment opportunities, technological advancements, and the entrepreneurs and projects who are putting their talents to work for the good of humanity.
Last March’s 8th annual World Ocean Summit Virtual Week was replete with discussions on how to improve the health of the ocean and quicken the pace toward a more sustainable ocean economy. According to Ocean Economist, aquaculture, offshore wind, fishing, and plastic pollution are some areas in which policymakers and investors should be directing their focus. Attention to these areas, in particular, could mean sustainably feeding a growing global population, decarbonizing the world’s energy system while conserving biodiversity, restoring global fish stock, modernizing the whole plastic value chain, cutting carbon emissions by using cleaner fuels, and creating marine protected areas (MPAs) respectively.
The website noted that “Speakers and delegates… confirmed the prevailing hope that the main challenges facing the ocean can and will be solved. The solutions and technologies exist, many companies are already driving change in their supply chains, and there is growing demand from both investors and governments for a shift to sustainable blue activities.”
So what opportunities are out there for investors and entrepreneurs within the Blue Economy? The answer is many. The Atlantic Smart Ports Blue Acceleration Program, for one, is seeking new project submissions to help EU Atlantic ports work as blue economy hubs. The network points out that “Ports are one of the primary interfaces with the ocean, which means they will play a strategic role as launchpads for a new generation of blue companies,” so it’s no wonder that they are inviting entrepreneurs to submit solutions across seventeen different Blue Economy sectors.
When it comes to advances in fishing and Aquaculture (breeding, rearing, and harvesting fish, shellfish, algae, and other organisms), there are literally trillions of dollars of investment opportunities out there. For example, the project named COEXIST, coordinated by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, has established key partnerships with ten European countries including the Portuguese Institute of Marine Research and the Irish-based Aquatt Uetp Ltd firm, and the University College Cork. Funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, this project “will evaluate competing activities and interactions in European coastal areas. The ultimate goal of the COEXIST project is to provide a roadmap to better integration, sustainability, and synergies across the diverse activities taking place in the European coastal zone,” according to their website.
As far as energy goes, tidal stream and wave energy can offer predictability for energy investment portfolios. The CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, Rémi Gruet is squarely focused on energy transition solutions and, in a recent interview with Core Power Ocean, he said, “Wave and tidal are of course innovative solutions that will help produce more renewable energy…those two will be the bulk of global electricity production.” This is very much in line with Portugal Ventures’ 2021 challenge for innovative science and tech-based projects in the Blue Economy, launched in partnership with Fundo Azul. Just two months after the call for submissions was announced, Portugal Ventures reports, “Two applications were submitted from the Azores, 1 from Madeira, 28 from the North of Portugal, 35 from Lisbon, two from the Alentejo region and one from the Algarve. But the greatest response came from the Central region, with a total of 48 applications submitted.”
The crisis of marine plastic pollution is currently being targeted by initiatives like the Blue Circular Economy (BCE) project, which is based in the Northern Periphery and Arctic regions of Europe. The trans-national project aims to transform discarded fishing gear and marine plastic waste into recycled products, thereby targeting a circular economy. According to their European Commission’s website, “The project covers some of the most distant oceans and seas around Norway, Greenland, Ireland, and the UK.” Meanwhile, the Ocean Economist’s report reminds us that, “advanced chemical recycling technologies and collaboration across the whole plastic value chain will intensify in coming years.”
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. When you take a deep dive further into ongoing projects happening in synchronicity worldwide, you'll see that the sky, the wind, the waves, and the water is the limit. Please join the IPBN for our upcoming Blue Economy Conference on September 30, accessible both in person at the CCIP in Lisbon, or online via our YouTube channel. We will be featuring panels of industry experts in these areas of interest who can help us take our understanding of the potential of the blue economy to the next level.
In the Tourism and Events sector, two of our members noted that they were able to readjust their business models and build out their skillsets to fight the negative effects of social distancing, lockdowns, and closed borders on their businesses: United Events Global and Quinta dos Vales
Moderated by former Chair of the IPBN Aoife Healy, the second panel focused on "How to Tackle and Create Disruption in the Hospitality Sector." In the words of panelist Sofia Almeida, the overall takeaway is that “We have to adapt. And COVID was proof of that.”
The IPBN Algarve committee, in partnership with the University of Algarve (UAlg), the Algarve STP, and NEST Tourism Innovation Center Portugal, recently hosted the well-attended event, "Scaling-up for Tourism: Opportunities for Innovation in Tourism and the Challenges to Adapt to Transformation."