During the recent European Commission info Week on Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 (SC2) “Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the Bioeconomy”, the COLUMBUS project was given the spotlight.
As part of this week-long programme, an event was held to specifically address Blue Growth Research and Innovation, and its cross-sectorial and interdisciplinary approach to marine, maritime and aquatic research and innovation and its relevance to EU policies and to the blue economy. This event show-cased examples of impactful EU projects and their uptake by different stakeholders including policy makers, as well as synergies with other major programmes and initiatives that contribute to the blue economy in Europe and beyond.
The event consisted of introductory remarks by Commission representatives on the instruments and tools to fund blue growth, followed by sub-sessions on the value of sustainable marine bioresources, marine stressors and food security and marine data and digitisation. Four projects were presented in each sub-session and followed by comments from a user panel of industry and other key representatives.
The event was opened by John Bell, Director of Bioeconomy in DG RTD (photo below), who provided the scope and the challenge that lies before us. He referred to the recently published report “Investing in the European future we want ” from the High- Level Group on maximising impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes, chaired by Pascal Lamy, and specifically to its main message on the need to invest in research and innovation and where success depends ever more on the production and conversion of knowledge into innovation. He noted that with important policy decisions that will impact the next 5-10 years, we will need to change the way in which we organise our society around Blue Growth. He specifically asked the research community to step up its efforts to become the ‘intelligence service’ for policy makers and fill the knowledge gaps that have been identified.
The COLUMBUS video “The Importance of Marine Sciences ” was shown just after and more detail on the initiative was provided by COLUMBUS project manager, Cliona Ni Cheallachain (photo below), with the second COLUMBUS video showing “An introduction to Knowledge Transfer ” with a detailed explanation of the process developed by COLUMBUS.
In her presentation, Cliona went on to explain how the core objective of COLUMBUS - to ensure that applicable knowledge generated through EC-funded science can be transferred effectively to unlock the potential of the oceans to create future jobs and economic growth in Europe – has been put into action. As the project draws towards its end, key achievements include the identification of 6,415 projects, 1199 Knowledge Outputs (KO) identified and 96 KO prioritised for transfer. Through the generation of 60 case studies, COLUMBUS is therefore providing evidence that EC Funded marine research projects are generating valuable knowledge with real applications for blue growth impact.
Given that retrospective knowledge collection is prohibitively expensive and difficult, a key COLUMBUS recommendation is that funding agencies implement effective processes for high quality collection of Knowledge Outputs during the project life.
Cross-cutting applications of knowledge have very high potential added value, hence further capacity building efforts are required across the marine science community to be able to carry out effective knowledge transfer and bring about a culture change in the approach to impactful science for society at large.
A summary report of the EC Blue Growth Research and Innovation Day will be published soon on the DG Research and Innovation web site.