Optimising the Development Potential of Maritime Sensor Technology from Publicly Funded Research - April 2018

Launch of the COLUMBUS Good Practice Guide: "Maritime Sensor Technologies for the European Market: Research, Development and Implementation"

The Horizon 2020 COLUMBUS project, which ended in February 2018, worked to identify and transfer knowledge generated by EU-funded marine and maritime research to new users. In April 2018, COLUMBUS delivered a new guide that shares best practices, highlights bottlenecks, and provides recommendations for successful knowledge transfer in maritime sensor technologies.

Over the course of successive EU Framework Programmes, the European Commission has made a significant investment in research and innovation projects designed to advance ocean observing and monitoring capacities through the development of marine environmental sensing technologies. However, the Commission’s vision to deliver a suite of commercially-viable sensors that support key policy and management objectives has not yet been fully realised. Whilst some of the EU projects have been successful in commercialising products, demonstrating prototypes and transferring innovative software to industry; the development of promising technology stalled in others.

Following discussions at two COLUMBUS brokerage events*, the underlying cause for this was believed to be a disconnect between the ambitious goals set out by call texts and what is achievable within a 3 to 4-year project.

To resolve this short-falling, the COLUMBUS guide recommends that calls provide clearer expectations; projects are co-created with end-users; and, generated knowledge is shared openly. These findings are very much aligned with the recommendations to funding agencies that will soon be published by COLUMBUS.
The guide may be of interest to a wide audience but is particularly targeted at funding agencies that are responsible for commissioning marine technology research, and technology developers (private and academic) engaged in such research. Technology implementers and intermediaries may also be interested in some of the recommendations and findings.

The guide is available for download, here

Sensor Tech Good Practice GUide frontcover

Image: Front cover of the Maritime Sensor Technologies for the European Market Good Practice Guide

*‘Knowledge Transfer in Maritime Sensing Technologies’ on 23 November 2017 (AtlantOS General Assembly 2017, Gran Canaria) and on 23 January 2018 (EuroGOOS Headquarters, Brussels).

DEVOTES Project wins COLUMBUS Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Award – February 2018

Over 70 COLUMBUS partners, stakeholders and Knowledge Transfer professionals came together to celebrate impact and value creation at COLUMBUS project’s third and final Annual Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Conference, “Making Marine and Maritime Science Count”, in Brussels, Belgium, on 24 January 2018. This also gave rise to the opportunity to present the COLUMBUS Blue Society award for impactful Knowledge Transfer, designed to acknowledge marine and maritime Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) champions and highlight best practice examples of successful Knowledge Transfer. 

The Blue Society vision strives to link Blue Growth and Citizens. Philippe Vallette, Director General of Nausicaa, Centre National de la Mer, who presented the Blue Society vision recalled the participants that ”the Ocean offers us tremendous opportunities for new resources, innovative experiences and positive long term solutions... It means developing new ocean related activities, initiatives and actions based on sustainability, well-being and equity”. The Blue Society really considers the entire ocean as the common heritage and collective responsibility of all nations on the planet.

In this respect, Philippe emphasized on the Blue Society vision as a “concept integrating systematically economy, environment, society, and culture in order to improve geographical and time equity and foster good ocean governance”.
Promoting marine and maritime research and innovation, and any project’s added value, to relevant audiences through a close collaboration between researchers, the public, entrepreneurs and decision-makers is one of the pillars of the Blue Society. COLUMBUS is naturally aligned with the Blue Society vision and its today dedicated award aims to promote a culture change in individual researchers’ behaviour as well as stimulate engagement with Blue Growth beneficiaries.

The call for nominations ran from 3 October 2017 to 19 January 2018. Five projects from the fifty applications were shortlisted by a select evaluation committee of members from the COLUMBUS Management Team. The nominations were scored against the following criteria: Innovative: developing new concepts, processes, tools, methodologies and/or technology; Tailored: targeting specific audiences; Integrated: accessing the entire research project lifecycle; Impactful: creating measurable uptake and application; Leadership and Community Empowerment: inspiring change; Responsible: complying with the RRI principles; and, Legacy: achieving impact beyond the project lifetime. 

Four of those short-listed have been granted merit for their activities: 

- Nuno Mendonça: for the Figueira da Foz Business Incubator (www.ieff.pt), due to its efforts to accelerate business within the marine and maritime sector.

- Leopoldo Cavalteri Gerhardinger: for the Painel Mar, the Brazilian Future Earth Panel, due to its efforts to act as a multisectoral collaborative platform on the interface of knowledge and decision-making processes, aiming at the qualification of policies for the sustainable use and health of the oceans.

- Justine Delettre: for the Mr. Goodfish programme, due to its efforts to raise awareness of sustainable consumption of seafood products by the general public and industry professionals.

- Gabriele Sacchettini: for the OpenTEA, due to its efforts to develop a new on-line training tool relating to the real-time monitoring of sea contaminants using the outputs of the SEA-on-a-CHIP project.

As the award was intended to specifically highlight those projects that resulted in impactful application of knowledge by end-users contributing to Blue Growth and the implementation of marine and maritime policies such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in harmony with the principle of Blue Society, the winner was clear. Philippe Vallette, the Director General of Nausicaá, presented the award to Ángel Borja, the Project Coordinator of the DEVOTES project.

The DEVOTES project was funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme to develop innovative tools to understand marine biodiversity and assess Good Environmental Status, the qualitative description of the state of the seas that the MSFD requires its Member States to achieve or maintain by the year 2020. Over the course of the project and beyond, Borja and his partners have pro-actively promoted their findings and combined numerous Knowledge Outputs into one user-friendly tool, as well as identifying applications in new sectors and developing capacity of its use, resulting in broad, measurable impact on marine policy. 

“I am very grateful that our activity had been recognised”, said Borja. “COLUMBUS is a great initiative and awards like this will help incentivise researchers and their organisations to ensure that their research gets used by those who need it”. 

Borja will present the DEVOTES project at the COLUMBUS Parliamentary Event, ‘Accelerating Blue Growth through Marine and Maritime Knowledge Transfer’ on 22 February 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.  During this event, COLUMBUS will present its lessons learned and will underline the advantages of a more proactive approach for Knowledge Transfer, supported by the appropriate resources throughout the process from funding. 

For specific information on the COLUMBUS project, contact the COLUMBUS Project Manager, Cliona Ní Cheallacháin (cliona@aquatt.ie), 

Angel prize photo

Image: Ángel Borja, Project Coordinator of DEVOTES and winner of the COLUMBUS Blue Society award for impactful Knowledge Transfer

Highly Anticipated COLUMBUS Conference Delivers – February 2018

On 24 January 2018, more than 70 participants met in Brussels, Belgium, for the COLUMBUS project’s third and final Annual Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Conference – a project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The COLUMBUS conference, entitled “Making Marine and Maritime Science Count”, provided a forum to collaboratively explore the barriers, challenges and possible solutions to increasing the impact potential of marine and maritime research. Based on feedback from last year, the conference was designed to be an interactive panel-based forum, providing a refreshing change to traditional conference formats. Overall, the conference was very successful, producing interesting debates and vigorous discussions around the concept of Knowledge Transfer.

The conference was opened by David Murphy of AquaTT, the COLUMBUS Strategic and Operational Leader. Surprise guest Ricardo Serrão Santos (MEP) – a long-time supporter and member of the COLUMBUS External Advisory Board – gave the first welcome address, expressing that “it is always good to be in a room with like-minded people interested in the seas.” During this address, Serrão Santos emphasised the need for relevant decisions to be made “from [the] best scientific evidence,” adding, however, that such evidence “can be hard to identify.” The COLUMBUS European Commission policy officer, Marco Weydert, also welcomed the participants and discussed the European Commission’s move towards “reviewing portfolios of projects rather than focusing only on their outputs individually.” Interestingly, this method mirrors COLUMBUS’s approach to gathering knowledge from many sources to identify those that respond to knowledge gaps and needs.

The day commenced with an overview of the project’s achievements through a panel discussion. Facilitated by Alistair Lane of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), partners involved in the COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer journey shared their experiences, insights and reflections. Following this, a second panel of industry representatives were invited to explore synergies, commonalities and differences in their approaches to value creation from research investments.

In the afternoon, the results of a flash survey of the COLUMBUS network were presented and discussed. The attendees enjoyed talking about the challenges and barriers involved in three key stages of the research lifecycle: pre-project, project implementation and post-project. Finally, a panel comprised of experts from the policy-facing research management sector discussed what strategic actions need to be taken to further optimise the research system and ultimately increase the impact of marine and maritime research.
A major objective of COLUMBUS was to show the effectiveness of the COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer Methodology and that demonstrable impact was achieved during the project. A compilation of COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer stories was provided to all those in attendance, along with 48 examples made available for download. The stories illustrate how the COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer Methodology was implemented and how corresponding impacts were achieved by different COLUMBUS Competence Nodes. Since Knowledge Transfer is, in some cases, still ongoing, the published stories are still in a draft format. More than 50 stories will be finalised and uploaded to the COLUMBUS website at the end of the project (28 February 2018). To view the current compilation of stories, please visit the project website: www.columbusproject.eu/project-results

COLUMBUS ran three other important events shortly before and after the conference. On 23 January 2018, External Capacity Building Training, entitled “Creating impact by knowledge transfer for the research community”, was provided to 12 participants. The event covered an introduction to the robust and validated COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer Methodology, as well as considerations for research teams and organisations to support the growing impact of funded research projects. On the same day, a “Maritime Sensing Technologies” workshop was held, bringing together maritime technology developers, implementers, and funders. The aim of the workshop was to address challenges facing companies seeking to advance Technology Readiness Levels during the initial funding for research and development.

On 25 January 2018, at the end of the conference, COLUMBUS partners met for their seventh (and final) Partner Meeting. The meeting celebrated the major achievements of the project so far, as well as discussions of plans to close out the project itself, which finishes at the end of February 2018.

Due to the success of the project, COLUMBUS aims to ensure a strong legacy. It will concentrate on defining recommendations and guidelines for how Knowledge Transfer could be incorporated into funded research as a key output of the project. For specific information on the COLUMBUS project, contact the COLUMBUS Project Manager, Cliona Ní Cheallacháin (cliona@aquatt.ie).

48story front

European Parliament event on accelerating Blue Growth through Knowledge Transfer - January 2018

The COLUMBUS project has demonstrated how it is possible to capitalise on the European Commission’s significant investment in marine and maritime research by ensuring accessibility and uptake of research Knowledge Outputs by end-users: policy, industry, science and wider society. This has been achieved by developing and applying a specifically tailored process to identify, analyse and transfer promising outputs from funded research projects.

To celebrate the valuable lessons learned by COLUMBUS, the European Parliament will host the conference “Accelerating Blue Growth through Marine and Maritime Knowledge Transfer”, on 22 February 2018, the last event of the COLUMBUS project.

The event, organised by EurOcean - the Work Package Leader on "Knowledge Collection", will be chaired by COLUMBUS External Advisory Board Member and EurOcean’s former President MEP member, Ricardo Serrão Santos, and will enjoy the participation of European Commission, namely the Head of the Marine Resources Unit in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, Sigi Gruber.

The event has the aim of reflecting on the lessons learned in the Horizon 2020's flagship project on Knowledge Transfer for Blue Growth, COLUMBUS, in relation to stepping up Knowledge Transfer from European and nationally-funded research and innovation projects in the marine and maritime sphere.

All the key steps for achieving successful Knowledge Transfer will be presented and demonstrated by a number of case studies. The event, mainly targeting policy and decision-makers, funding agencies, knowledge generators and users including researchers, consultants, scientists and industry, will underline the advantages of a more proactive approach for Knowledge Transfer, supported by the appropriate resources throughout the process from funding.

Please click here to download the "Save the Date" flyer. 

COLUMBUS in the spotlight at Blue Growth event - December 2017

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.

Infoweek17 photo JBell

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.

Infoweek17 photo CNiC

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.


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