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A legacy of greater connectivity in the blue bioeconomy

Tuesday 19 March 2024 marked the Blue Bioeconomy ERA-NET Cofund final consortium meeting at the Norway House in Brussels.

A legacy of greater connectivity in the blue bioeconomy

  • 21 March 2024

On Tuesday 19 March 2024, the Blue Bioeconomy ERA-NET Cofund held its final meeting in Brussels. The H2020 consortium will conclude its work in May 2024, and this final meeting served to take stock of the science-policy aspects and learnings from the past five and a half years spent building and strengthening the European blue bioeconomy, gathering stakeholders working on increasing impact from R&I calls.

Four calls and 49 funded projects have been at the core of BlueBio, but the great impact comes from structural and strategic choices on the running of the ERA-NET. At the BlueBio final meeting, a panel with Nikos Zampoukas (DG RTD), Mercedes Groba (EIT Food), Samuele Ambrosetti (BIC), Thorsten Kiefer (JPI Oceans) and Ingeborg Korme (BlueBio, moderator) discussed how to incorporate elements like industry partners and Human Capacity Building. Such elements must be mandatory in project applications and monitoring frameworks to ensure proper integration. In BlueBio, this practice has led to much of the professional exchange in the projects being with industry partners and most of the lecturers in the BlueBio-organised training courses being from the funded projects.

The value chain perspective was central in all calls, and the appointment of four Value Chain Supervisors has been essential in maintaining a focus on crosscutting aspects such as enabling technologies and market perspectives. Analysing the funded projects under the first call highlighted funding gaps along the value chain. These gaps were then chosen as call topics for subsequent calls, even when not relevant to most funders. Lastly, in the final call, BlueBio projects which had already received funding were made eligible for further grants to amplify project reach, knowledge impact and to add to their work in commercialisation, capacity building, communication, or policy recommendations.

At the Final meeting in Brussels, the representatives from BlueBio shared their experience and best practices to think outside the box. Outputs include reports on creating synergies and connectivity between projects, Human Capacity Building organised by the projects and by BlueBio, commercialisation support of R&I projects and reducing regulatory barriers in the circular, blue bioeconomy.

The impact of the 19 projects from the first call can already be measured with KPIs, but the lasting legacy of BlueBio is only beginning to be known. During the event, the panel with Maris Stulgis (DG MARE), Charlotte Jagot (CINEA), Inga Bruskeland (ERA Learn), Margherita Zorgno (SBEP) and Ingeborg Korme (BlueBio, moderator) discussed how to measure impact of cofounding instruments and how to ensure knowledge exchange between them. The influence of earlier ERA-NETs like ERA-MBT and COFASP or JPI Oceans was significant when shaping BlueBio, and HE Partnerships such as Sustainable Blue Economy and Sustainable Food Systems will continue this legacy.

To regain competitiveness in Europe, prepare for the future, create more agile and innovation-friendly regulatory frameworks, and enhance funding opportunities, some pages can be borrowed from the BlueBio book. The need for dissemination of the whole project portfolio including experience and knowledge gained in other BlueBio outputs is highlighted, aiming to create a more sustainable future, both circular and bio-based.

The Blue Bioeconomy ERA-NET Cofund final meeting concluded at the BIGH Brussels Aquaponic Farm, providing participants with a first-hand experience of aquaponics and recirculating aquaculture systems. Against the backdrop of innovation, attendees savoured the opportunity to taste farmed trout thriving on the rooftop, culminating the event with a delightful ending. This final ignited a renewed commitment towards fostering sustainable practices and collaborative innovation in the blue bioeconomy landscape.