ProtoAtlantic: Innovation in the marine environment in the Atlantic Area region
Lima, Ana Paula
Martínez Hernández, Héctor
Galván Falcón, Jorge
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Blue Growth, a term first coined by the European Commission as "an initiative to harness the untapped potential of Europe's oceans, seas and coasts", identified rich marine resources as an unique asset for economic development in coastal regions and on islands. The European Commission has through the Blue Growth objectives for the first time highlighted marine sectors as unique market opportunities with high growth potential which carry socio-economic importance to the development of coastal regions. Particularly marine sectors such as aquaculture, marine robotics, and marine renewable energy which fulfil global needs in food safety and security, enable monitoring and exploration in harsh and remote conditions, and globally growing energy needs were recognized as catalysts to achieve sustainable development. Marine start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) were identified as potential drivers in emerging marine sectors. However, they require support mechanisms tailored to their needs as they are competing for the same business and financial support as land-based SMEs, yet the research and development infrastructure is more difficult to access.ProtoAtlantic, an Interreg Atlantic Area funded project, provided marine-specific support mechanisms to marine start-ups and SMEs in emerging sectors, including business support through the accelerator and mentorship programs, enabling companies to fast track their product development through access to prototyping and testing facilities in all partner regions. The Interreg Atlantic Area encompasses partner regions in France, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, and Spain. The consortium partners consist of TechnopÃ´le Brest Iroise (Brest, France), University College Cork - UCC (Cork, Ireland), County Council Cork (Cork, Ireland), INESC TEC (Porto, Portugal), the European Marine Energy Centre - EMEC (Orkney, Scotland), EMERGE (Canary Islands, Spain), and the lead partner, Innovalia Association (Canary Islands, Spain). The strategic collaboration between the partners provided marine start-ups access to testing facilities in the Atlantic Ocean. The extreme living laboratories provided by EMEC, the LiR National Ocean Testing Facilities at UCC's Centre of Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI centre), and INESC TEC promise harsh real-life conditions which test the suitability of marine technologies to the limit thereby providing start-ups and SMEs with an extra layer of confidence in developing their technologies. This cross-regional collaboration puts the ProtoAltantic program in a unique position, as it is the first of its kind to dedicate marine-specific support to marine start-ups and SMEs which have benefited from the opportunities that ProtoAtlantic has provided.ProtoAtlantic developed a holistic model for the prototyping and exploitation of innovative ideas in emerging maritime sectors. After the identification of ideas from the research community, start-ups, and SMEs with product innovation capacity in the maritime sector, an acceleration program with a normed and structured process was implemented, thus creating a unique ecosystem in the Atlantic that is addressing a co-creation paradigm with the local European start-ups communities and all the stakeholders.
Acceleration program , Blue growth , Prototyping , Regional economic development Sustainable development , Sustainable blue economy
Lima, A. P., Martínez Hernández, H., Giannoumis, J., O'Suilleabhain, D., O’Reilly, A., Heward, M., Presse, P., Santana, M., Galván Falcón, J. and Silva, E. (2022) 'ProtoAtlantic: Innovation in the marine environment in the Atlantic Area region', OCEANS 2022, Chennai, India, 21-24 February. doi: 10.1109/OCEANSChennai45887.2022.9775476
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