Linking innovations in blue growth with access to sources of finance, and leveraging the role of ports as poles – the key takeaways from European Week of Regions and Cities

18 October 2018 - Published by Stig Marthinsen

Against the maritime market trends of digitization, climate change, sustainability and increasing competition from Asia, a group of blue growth experts gathered during EWRC in Brussels on 9th October to debate future perspectives for smart specialisation.

In front of an audience of eighty, the keynote speaker, Christos Economou, Head of Unit in DG MARE, explained that there was a need to identify promising opportunities and accelerate bankable innovations for the global market place and invest in open innovation and innovation hubs.

A key conclusion was that regions can empower themselves in their smart specialisation activities by judicious use of public-private partnerships. Johannes Bie, from outlined their CRIF model (Cost Reduction and Innovation Forum) applied to services and processes, and enabling industry-led open innovation. Complementing these activities is the ubiquitous access to finance, linking start-ups to investors and pointing to innovative and flexible funding instruments, added to strong project acceleration support.

Arjen Uytendaal, President of the European Network of Maritime Clusters, highlighted the requirement for skills development in blue skills, equipping the next generation with ocean literacy.

It was abundantly clear that there needs to be a macro-regional strategy for North Sea Region with flagship projects and clear strategies. Anne-Grete Ellingsen, CEO of GCE NODE, the oil and gas cluster in southern Norway and moderator of the afternoon, added that “Periscope could be the industry-led flagship supporting the blue economy, regional smart specialization and cross-border innovation.”

“We need to look forward and use foresight to feed both the public sector and policymakers with pertinent insight. This we can achieve through collaboration between clusters and across borders.”