Introduced in previous COLUMBUS news articles (April 2015 and July 2015), COLUMBUS is a €4m Blue Growth project designed to ensure that outputs arising from publicly-funded marine research projects have positive societal benefit. COLUMBUS will ensure measurable value creation, from EC investment into marine and maritime research, to contribute to sustainable Blue Growth within the timeframe of the project. To do this, COLUMBUS has established a “Knowledge Fellowship”, a network of nine full-time Knowledge Fellows whose role will be to carry out Knowledge Transfer. Working together as a team and active network, this combined critical mass will provide a multiplier effect to help achieve measurable impacts and to develop a blueprint for future activities in this field of work, ultimately contributing to the development of a thriving and sustainable “blue” economy. These Knowledge Fellows will work across nine nodes, each with a specific focus area: aquaculture, marine biological resources, marine environment and futures, fisheries, marine governance and management, marine transport and logistics, monitoring and observation, marine physical resources, and marine tourism.
On 6-7 October 2015, COLUMBUS’ Knowledge Fellows along with relevant partners, came together in Co. Meath, Ireland to begin their intensive training in Knowledge Transfer. The two-day training course was provided by AquaTT, the Strategic and Operational Leader of the project. AquaTT designed and wrote COLUMBUS based on their past experiences and insights into Knowledge Transfer. COLUMBUS is built on the significant efforts of past initiatives, where AquaTT was a common partner, which were focused on increasing the potential impact of EU-funded research. The enveloping theme recognising the need to move away from traditional communication activities that are developed for a project as a whole, and instead focusing on specific “Knowledge Outputs” generated by the project and the Target Users who need to be informed of them.
The Knowledge Fellows completed activity-based sessions, with progressive learning and understanding as the course objective. These exercises allowed each participant to realise the value in investing time and effort into developing a strategic and successful user-focused Knowledge Transfer Plan. Each Knowledge Fellow is now tasked with the significant mission of collecting Knowledge Outputs from past and current EU-funded marine projects. By doing so, high potential solutions might be identified and applied that could overcome major challenges and help progress the marine and maritime sectors in Europe.
COLUMBUS expects to see its impact come from the consequences of improved knowledge uptake by the different marine and maritime stakeholders. Acceptance and use of knowledge in industry, policy, society and science depends on the awareness, perception and understanding these stakeholders have of that knowledge. To bridge this gap by developing robust and sustainable Knowledge Transfer systems, which can be easily adapted and used, is a key objective of the COLUMBUS project.