Setbacks and Steps Forward in the Blue Ocean Economy

Investments, groundbreaking projects, and more attempting to right the wrongs to the ocean

Following the IPBN’s Blue Economy Conference in Sep 2021, there have been many milestone achievements worth mentioning. However, steps in the right direction need to be made more quickly and more often as alarming climate disasters continue to ravage the planet. 

Jupiter Asset Management reported that “One of the inevitable consequences of climate change is the rising incidence of major natural disasters, which in turn puts pressure on resources vital not only to many industries but to life itself. From an investment perspective, we believe companies that are able to reduce their reliance on potentially vulnerable resources will be better positioned to deliver sustainable returns over the long term. Alongside overall carbon reduction, water efficiency is an issue that has been at the forefront of our minds, and one does not have to look far to understand why water is a core issue.” The company cited recent major droughts in California, Madagascar, Brazil, and Tehran as a window into what intensified climate change will look like if no actions are taken.

But no bad news comes without the good. IPBN partner Portuguese VC Faber Ventures announced that they would be launching a new fund, Faber Blue Pioneers I, to invest in early-stage startups primarily from Portugal and Southern Europe who are developing innovative “deep tech solutions” around ocean sustainability and climate action. TechCrunch reports that “The fund will have an initial target of €30 million, including funding from Portugal Blue as well as impact-driven institutional investors like Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos (through its investment arm Movendo Capital), and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Champalimaud Foundation’s Ocean Campus Technology Hub.” 

According to IPBN media partner Essential Business, the hub will begin with an initial upfront investment of €70 million for the redevelopment of the Doca de Pedrouços dock. “It will involve research centers, a university hub, and new public spaces [and] will also involve the redevelopment of 65 hectares of land by the Tagus river between Lisbon and Oeiras. The main complex will be a scientific and AI hub and will also include the new Blue Business School, a new university hub linked to research on marine matters, as well as a project for a hotel,” the publication reports. 

Pedro Nuno Santos, Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, hopes to use this project to “foster innovation and highly qualified and disruptive research,” while the President of the Champalimaud Foundation, Leonor Beleza said, “the main goal is to find means of artificial intelligence and software which can be developed into treatments in areas of medicine linked to brain illnesses, neurology and psychiatry. The use of algorithms and machines has revolutionized medicine and promises to do much more than is now currently within our reach.”

Meanwhile,  keynote speaker at the IPBN Blue Economy conference Charlotte O’Kelly from TechWorks Marine reported in the Business Post that her company has been quite busy considering that marine data requirements and Operational Oceanography is growing both in Ireland and internationally. “TechWorks Marine recently won €1.5 million under the disruptive technologies innovation fund, provided by the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, for a wider spatial information project. It is also actively moving into the area of offshore renewable energy, with data it believes can help companies developing large wind farms off Ireland’s coast,” the Business Post writes. “It’s an exciting time for us,” O’Kelly said. “Ireland has a lot to offer as a nation of islanders, and it is really starting to look at the ocean as an avenue that can generate economic activity, as well as demonstrating our expertise in the area.” She added, “It is great to see marine data coming into global focus at last!”

And it’s not just marine data that’s growing in the hearts and minds of the public, it’s also the idea of ocean protection as a whole. Fórum Oceano, a partner of the IPBN Blue Economy conference has unveiled a new project entitled “The Ocean of my Future.” According to EEA Grants.gov, “The [project] aims to increase knowledge of the different sectors of the blue economy, providing a perspective on future "blue careers", including blue entrepreneurship. It is aimed at secondary school students, namely 12th graders, who are at a decisive stage of choosing their vocation and intends to create in these young people a disposition and proactive behavior in relation to the ocean and its sustainable uses, as well as opportunities and challenges in their professional future.” 

IPBN partner Ruben Eiras, Secretary-General of Fórum Oceano and one of our keynote speakers at the recent IPBN Blue Economy Conference remarked that the new project was to be a landmark one during his recent presentation the Portugal Blue Digital Hub, the Digital Innovation Hub for Blue Economy in which he unveiled the new mission of Forum Oceano as Portugal's Blue Economy Cluster: to catalyze the creation of a world leader Blue ESG Digital industry in Portugal, that decarbonizes and circularizes the economy, in deep sync with Blue Invest Platform and initiatives like Atlantic Smart Ports Blue Acceleration Network (AspBAN). It should be noted that the AspBAN initiative was selected as the winner of the "Atlantic Ports" category for the 5° Atlantic Project Awards at the Dublin Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference where Eiras and guest speaker at the IPBN Blue Economy conference Pedro Rocha Vieira, Co-founder & CEO at Beta-i accepted the award in person.

The IPBN is busy finalizing our annual Sustainability conference to take place as every year on St. Patrick’s day (Thursday March 17). Please already SAVE THE DATE. Programme, venue, and format to be announced soon.