European Maritime Day 2019 – ‘The Ocean is my Mission’

With 1500 registered participants, EMD 2019 has broken all previous records, including for the biggest ever exhibition, with 105 exhibitors. Walking around offers a glimpse into the exciting opportunities our seas offer – and that plenty of businesses are starting to grasp.

Opening Session: Fernando MEDINA, President of the Municipality of Lisbon

Welcome: Ana Paula VITORINO, Minister of Sea, Republic of Portugal

Opening Address and Interview: ‘The Ocean is my Mission’: Karmenu VELLA, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Moderator: Spyros KOUVELIS

 Ocean leader panel: What lies ahead? What is at stake for the oceans?

  • Karmenu VELLA, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
  • Gesine MEISSNER, Member of European Parliament, Chair of Intergroup on Seas, Rivers, Islands & Coastal Areas (SEARICA), EP Special Envoy on Maritime Policy
  • Ricardo SERRÃO SANTOS, Member of European Parliament, Vice-Chair SEARICA Intergroup
  • Marcella HANSCH, Ocean Entrepreneur, CEO Pacific Garbage Screening
  • Darko MANAKOVSKI, Ocean Activist, Lead for Scandinavia, Global Development, Rare
  • Vanessa DRAPER, Director, Sky Ocean Ventures

Moderator: Spyros KOUVELIS

Using the oceans sustainably

By far the biggest theme however, is how to use the oceans sustainably. As Commissioner Vella said at the opening: “There is something uniting us: the will to protect the oceans.” Challenges like plastic pollution, climate change, or environmental degradation are on everybody’s minds. And participants are not afraid of tackling them.

João Costa, Innovation Manager at XLAB Slovenia, presents ongoing work to develop a “port environmental index” that combines several KPIs like emissions, waste production and light pollution into one metric. This would allow small and medium ports to easily monitor and act on the environmental footprint.

Over at the interactive marine litter workshop, organiser Mariana Mata Lara from AQUALIT has divided participants into groups to find solutions under four main headings: marine litter prevention, recovery, transformation, and mapping and quantification. Discussions are lively and result in a number of concrete ideas: from introducing regional tenders for waste management to create economies of scale, to asking producers to rent out fishing gear instead of selling it, thereby creating a business model with in-built producer responsibility.


Business opportunities from the sea

A few stands further down, for example, Lisbon-based Algae for Future (A4F) are showing off test tubes with colourful microalgae extracts. Founded in 2008, A4F are aiming to replace chemical components used, for example, as food colouring or in cosmetics, with microalgae. As COO Luis Costa explains: “We don’t produce the microalgae ourselves, but we do produce the technology that our clients use. We hope to scale up eventually.” They currently employ 40-50 people and are testing their technology on a 14ha site.

Meanwhile, at the pitch stage, seats are in short supply as people stop by to get a glimpse of the blue economy of the future. Pedro Pires from WavEC explains new engineering solutions for both wave energy and offshore aquaculture sites. Silvia Lino, research scientist at biopharmaceutical company Sea4Us, is investigating into how new chemical compounds from marine organisms could help “switch off pain”.

/…/ Photo: Marek Grzybowski;  Source:

Smart Specialisation and the Emerging Blue Sectors

Title of the workshop: Acting together in a regional ecosystem


  • European Regions Research and Innovation Network
  • Emilia-Romagna Region (MISTRAL Med Project – coordinator)
  • Baltic Sea & Space Cluster

Summary:  Building on the competence of a region, this workshop will showcase how investments in blue growth have a positive cross-sectorial impact on the entire regional innovation ecosystem. We will present strategies and gaps in RIS3 as well as tools and methods for knowledge transfer in the blue economy.

Moderator:Mr Tomasz Szymczak, CEO, STARTER


  • Ms Fedra Francocci – Scientific Officer, Institute of Research on Terrestrial Ecosystems, National Research Council Italy.
  • Mr Matt Hodson – Marine Hub Operations Director, Marine-i, Cornwall Development Company
  • Mr Marek Grzybowski – Cluster Manager, Baltic Sea & Space Cluster.
  • Mr Karsten Aust – EU Advisor, PERISCOPE project, South Norway European Office.

CISE (Common Information Sharing Environment): A new era for maritime surveillance

The session will announce the launch of the operational phase of the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) as an important building block of the overall EU maritime surveillance framework, with the involvement of the European Maritime Safety Agency. This new phase will build upon the successful completion of the EU interoperability project EUCISE2020 as well as important national projects. Devised by the Commission together with Member States and several EU agencies, CISE will further facilitate quick and reliable exchange of information across borders and across different maritime authorities. It will contribute to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment, which is a key precondition to allow blue economy to grow and flourish. It will improve maritime surveillance and mitigate the diverse risks that might have a negative effect on our seas and shores, such as pollution, illegal and criminal activities, piracy, or terrorism.

Moderator: Christos ECONOMOU, Head of Unit, DG MARE, European Commission


  • Leendert BAL, Head of Department ‘Operations’, European Maritime Safety Agency
  • Carlos FERREIRA,  Director of Inspection, Monitoring and Control of Maritime Activities at Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services, Ministry of the sea, Portugal
  • Giuseppe CODISPOTI, Deputy Coordinator of EUCISE2020
  • Bartel MEERSMAN, Head of Unit, JRC, European Commission

Plugging the finance gap: Building a European Blue Economy Investment Platform

Many ocean-based industries have the potential to outperform the global economy as a whole, both in terms of value added and employment. However, innovation in the blue economy, especially in emerging sectors, is hampered through lack of access to finance, in particular for start-ups and scale-ups with an estimated funding gap of around 65-80 billion in Europe. In this session the European Commission will present its analysis of financing needs and how it is working to address this gap. It is also going to launch a new Assistance Mechanism for the Blue Economy that will facilitate the development of a blue investment and innovation community allowing constant interaction between companies and help SMEs in the blue economy to become investment ready.

Moderator: Bernhard FRIESS, Director, Maritime Policy and Blue Economy, DG MARE, European Commission


  • Martin POULSEN, Managing Director, Acacia Sustainable Business Advisors
  • Minerva ELIAS FRANQUESA, European Investment Fund, Manager, Innovation Programmes
  • Ruben EIRAS, Director General for Maritime Policy, Ministry of the Sea, Portugal
  • Marco FERNANDES, CEO, PME Investimentos
  • Daniela CEDOLA, Director, PwCD Consulting Luxemburg