In mid-September, representatives of the regions of Crete, the Algarve, Brittany, Basque Country, Galicia, Occitania as well as Research Infrastructures such as EMBRC met in Heraklion, Greece, on the initiative of EMBRIC to discuss how to best foster blue bioeconomy development. The participants agreed on a joint strategic agenda which includes a comprehensive mapping of regional expertise, a sharing of best practices and a joint effort to establish a pan-European Investment platform to overcome common challenges such as attracting SMEs or financing late stage projects. “We want to make marine knowledge and sustainable innovation key drivers for blue bioeconomy growth”, summarized Eleni Hatziyanni, Director of Environment and spatial planning from the region of Crete.
During the meeting all participating regions presented their current status of political engagement in the blue bioeconomy space. The speakers highlighted specific priorities for investments and the competitive strengths of the each area. Annie Audic, representing the French region of Brittany highlighted: “Blue biotech is a promising, fast evolving sector that is not yet fully exploited. This is partially due to a lack of definition what blue biotech encompasses.” For this reason, the participants agreed that the sector will move forward more effectively when regional stakeholders map their diverse expertise and activities as well as collect existing best-practice examples in science and economy. In the long-term, blue biotechnology stakeholders will also explore the opportunity to set up a joint “Interregional Investment Platform”. A study published by the European Investment Bank recommends Investment Platforms as financing structures and co-financing or risk-sharing agreements that pool several investors’ resources and are partially backed with a public contribution.
Another topic raised during the conference was the possibility of a closer cooperation between academic infrastructures, regional experts and companies. “We need to build a mosaic of blue growth”, underlined Ibon Cancio, representing the Basque region. Bernard Kloareg, who is leading the EMBRIC cluster and heads EMBRC-France, closed the meeting by emphasizing that the maritime regions can use the Research Infrastructures to grow and to accelerate blue bioeconomy growth. A follow-up meeting is planned for late 2018.
For more information on this (and other EMBRIC-related activities), please see the EMBRIC newsletter.