The Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship agency gives the go-ahead for a new spearhead cluster on blue economy | Compendium Coast and Sea

The Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship agency gives the go-ahead for a new spearhead cluster on blue economy

At the end of 2017, a number of prominent Belgian companies (Colruyt, DEME, Econopolis, INVE, Jan De Nul, Sioen Industries, Tractebel Engineering, Vanbreda Risk & Benefits, Vyncke and ZERI) founded the non-profit association ‘Blue Cluster’ with the aim of stimulating partnerships between knowledge institutes, government agencies and companies in order to develop innovative projects that appeal to the economic potential of our North Sea. At the beginning of March, the Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship agency (VLAIO) gave the go-ahead to the npo Blue Cluster to become a spearhead cluster. This will make the Blue Cluster the sixth spearhead cluster initiative in Flanders after Catalisti (chemistry), Flux50 (energy), VIL (logistics), Flanders' food (Agri-food) and SIM (materials). By the end of 2018, the Blue Cluster will have to submit a cluster pact to VLAIO for approval, but innovation projects can already be submitted. The first innovation projects will be presented in Ostend in June.

From this point of view, the Blue Cluster has already developed innovative research and development projects that will contribute to sustainable and promising economic activities and investments in the Belgian part of the North Sea and beyond. Climate change, ocean pollution, the energy issue, healthy food and good maritime accessibility are challenges where de Blue Cluster is actively committed. The Blue Cluster also highlights blue tourism, with a specific focus on eco-educational tourism around the innovation projects at sea. The various challenges will be approached as an "ecosystem" by a diverse and broad network of companies and knowledge institutions working together.

As far as innovation is concerned, the following topics are considered: the cultivation of algae in the North Sea, floating solar panels, cleaning up the munitions dump on the Paardenmarkt sandbank, strengthening coastal protection, etc.

The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) has played an important role in the preparation of the Blue Cluster as being the contact point for the marine research landscape (cf. Compendium for Coast and Sea) and in guaranteeing the scientific substantiation of the application. After recognition, a scientific advisory board will be set up within the cluster, with the VLIZ also continuing its efforts as a liaison between the marine scientific world and industry.


A website is already online where further details about the mission and history can be consulted.