LaSpezia, 8 June 2023
With the support of the WestMED (WM) Assistance Mechanism and the Italian national clusters CTN BIG and Federazione del Mare, the Maritime Clusters Alliance organised an event during SeaFuture 2023 in LaSpezia Italy focused on the WestMED Maritime Cluster Alliance
The main objective was to provide an overview of the cooperation among maritime clusters that are part of the WestMed Maritime Cluster Alliance (WM MCA) after two years since its inception- including:
- jointly created, submitted and awarded projects requesting funding;
- the significant impact on the southern shore dynamics (thanks to the proactivity of the Cluster Maritime Tunisien and the establishment of the Mauritanian Marine and Maritime Cluster);
- the intensified Italian-Portuguese cooperation;
- the inclusive approach of CTN BIG and Federazione del Mare towards the Mediterranean ecosystem as a whole.
Daniele Bosio and Luca Palazzo, WestMED National coordinators for Italy highlighted the importance of the Maritime Clusters Alliance Alliance towards the creation of a real Mediterranean ecosystem, particularly for a country like Italy that is currently preparating its first national strategic “Piano del Mare” (Plan for the Sea), as the main action after the establishment of the newly formed ‘Ministry of the Sea and Civil Protection.’This Ministry is going to coordinate the competencies thgat is currently spread over 13 ministries.
Also, the inclusive role of Italy during its WestMED co-presidency was underlined, particularly for its embedding effort, to let regional and INTERREG managing authorities adopt WestMED priorities in the new 2021-2027 programmes and workplans.
Manuel Pleguezuelo (EC-DG MARE) reminded the priority given by DG MARE to the Maritime Cluster Alliance, considering the already achieved results, highlighting the work of the dedicated WestMED Workgroup and the role to include the outcomes within the recent EMFAF call that expired in late January 2023.
Adriana Salazar Olivan presented the role of the Union for the Mediterranean role in support of the WestMED Initiative, putting in evidence the impact that theresults achieved are having on the broader scenario of the whole Basin. This is witnessed by the involvement of Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, Jordan, Croatian etc organizations within the partnerships supported by the WMAM.
This has confirmed the validity of the Assistance Mechanism concept, as a “bottom-up” team, supporting and staying beside stakeholders instead of above.
Shaun Patrick Ebejer (Malta) confirmed the importance that the Maltese co-presidency is giving to the topic of clusters, also for the benefit of its small but vital ecosystem. Not for a case, the interaction with the Italian clusters is growing and the two countries are possibly joining forces for a common national event in October.
Main Achievements of the WestMED Maritime Clusters Alliance and its members
Among the multiple achievements of the WestMED Maritime Clusters Alliance, Anja Detant remarked the attention that the European Commission and CINEA paid to the opening the EMFAF calls to third countries, particularly those of the WestMED sub-basin, and to the priorities of the WestMED Technical Groups and Work Groups.
Hamadi BABA HAMADI, summarized the process and the importance for his country towards such a move, as a starting point to fully integrate Mauritania in the common ecosystem and tighten cooperation with northern and southern WM countries. The centrality of the Fishery sector, of Maritime Transport and of Blue Skills are indicated as priority for Mauritanian dynamics and networking activities with the Mediterranean stakeholders.
On June 9th in Rome, the president of the Mauritanian Marine and Maritime Cluster has signed an MoU with the Italian national clusters, aiming at a closer cooperation, including the research activities.
Emna Sohlobji, in her position of secretary general of the CMT (but also as elected Leading Woman in African Blue Economy) has witnessed the boost that her cluster gained in EU funded projects, but also in the capacity to provide internationalization opportunities to their associated members, for the benefit of the national Blue Economy. A bright example was illustrated as the MEBLEUE 2022 speeded up this process, with the concrete cooperation cases fostered among training institutes, research institutes, ports etc.
Ruben Eiras, secretary general of Forum Oceano and National Hub for Portugal, presented the Hub Azul Dealroom (a comprehensive digital stakeholders’ platform), a service that is part of the larger Portuguese strategy for the Blue Economy and the need to enable a faster matchmaking between innovators, policy makers, promoters and investors. The Dealroom is a tool at disposal of the WestMED Maritime Clusters Alliance, to enlarge networks and foster new knowledge and partnerships.
Laurence Martin and Thanos Smanis, presented the European Blue Forum that was launched during the recent European Maritime Day in Brest, and the key role that maritime clusters will be playing there too.
ForMare, Forum Oceano, CTN BIG, Strategis Cluster, SGD4MED, Federazione del Mare, Pole Mediterranée described concrete project proposals that have been supported by the WestMED Assistance Mechanism to apply for funding – also with the perspective of possible capitalization actions. Most of these proposals were approved: ERASMUS+ – MARMED and MAQUAM, COSME Euroclusters – MedBan, IKAT and ELBE Alliance, EMFAF Women in Blue Economy – WINBIG, EMFAF Maritime Clusters CALLMEBLUE and Green Marine MED, EMFAF Ports & Maritime Transport POWER4MED.
Established cooperation agreements and synergies
Antonio Novo Guerrero, founder and president of the European Clusters Alliance (ECA), and Axelle Salvage fromEuropean Network of Maritime Clusters (ENMC) explained the efforts undertaken by the WestMED Maritime Clusters Alliance in liaising with their leading aggregations of clusters
The fruitful exchanges with ECA are now aimed at integrating networking agendas reciprocally, enlarging cross-sectoral exchange opportunities for WM MCA members and open the Blue specialization to the ECA. ENMC at their end, recognises the importance of the WestMED Maritime Clusters Alliamce as a way to gain more direct access to and interact with a broader spectrum of maritime clusters within the Mediterranean region, and its Assistance Mechanism.
Finally Walter Wassallo, promoter of the Blue Marina Award (that recognises Italian marinas for their coherence with sustainable Development Goals-SDG’s), presented the second edition of the awards to be held in Trieste in 2023 and is already looking at its cross-border Mediterranean scope from 2024 on, thanks to the technical assistance of the Italian National Hub in close cooperation with National Hub colleagues from the WestMED countries.
Conclusions were then summarized by the intervention of Giovanni Caprino, President of CTN BIG, and the remote intervention of Matteo Bocci, who coordinates the WestMED Maritime Clusters Alliance together with WestMED’s Italian National Hub.
Along these conclusions also the opportunities represented to increase exchanges with Black Sea and Atlantic Sea Basins’ stakeholders were underline, as a further contribution to the internationalization strategies and synergies of the“WestMED Maritime Clusters Community”.