Co-operation across borders is necessary to achieve success!

07 November 2019 - Published by Stig Marthinsen

This message was often repeated during the Periscope Forum, which took place in Brussels on 5 November. International stakeholders and policymakers gathered in Norway House to discuss how the North Sea Region can achieve global leadership in the blue economy, with a special focus on EU programming towards 2030. 


The Forum kicked off with contributions from keynote speakers who shared their experiences and visions on the future development of the Blue Growth sector. The speakers were Felix Leinemann, Head of Unit, European Commission, DG MARE; Kerstin Brunnström, President, North Sea Commission; and Arjen Uytendaal, President, Nederland Maritiem Land and the European Network of Maritime Clusters.


The second session addressed Global Challenges and Blue Sector Competitiveness. Due to global drivers, the wider maritime, marine and offshore economies are exposed to profound challenges. The European Maritime sector needs to strengthen the strategic use and implementation of new (digital) technologies and to have the rightly skilled and trained workforce. Industry experts and analysts shared their views on how to remain competitive and innovative. Donagh Cagney, Policy Director of Ocean Energy Europe joined Matteo Bocci, Senior Policy Expert in Ecorys and Claudio Bittencourt Ferreira from DNV GL to share their input.


The third session addressed Innovation Ecosystems, and how we can, through Smart Specialization of regions, help European companies to capitalise on emerging global opportunities and stay competitive. The session was highly practical and focussed on business support, the development of cross-border innovation ecosystems supported by open innovation platforms and infrastructures, skills development and access to funding. Tor Ivar Eikaas from The Research Council of Norway Brussels Office joined Erik Bunis, Process Manager of the OffshoreVäst Cluster and the Dutch SME RIMS BV represented by David Knukkel to share their experiences and suggestions.

To round off the morning, a Policy Panel Debate took place, discussing the main topics raised by the speakers. Erik Bunis, the Process Manager of the OffshoreVäst Cluster (SE) and Mathias Bernander, Member of County Council in Agder (NO) joined the keynote speakers on this panel. There was much interaction and a lively debate took place.


The entire morning session was ably moderated by Marjolein van Noort of the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners and the European Network of Maritime Clusters.

During the afternoon, Round Tables were organised for two sessions:

  • Financing cross-border innovation with potential for global leadership in the blue economy 
  • A sustainable ecosystem for the Blue NSR - business support and the role of clusters, digital innovation hubs and research & innovation infrastructures 


Each session had three specific themes. These took the form of backcasting, where normative scenarios were developed and their feasibility and implications explored. Important in the sustainability arena, it is as a tool with which to connect desirable long-term future scenarios to the present situation by means of a participatory process. This process was chosen as any resultant solution will broadly affect many stakeholders across a multitude of societal dimensions. The results from the Round Tables are being developed and will be published at the end of the month.

Proceedings from the event may be found here.