NEPTUNE(New Cross Sectoral Value Chains Creation across Europe Facilitated By Clusters for SMEs’ Innovation in Blue Growth), a European Union research and innovation project, aims at developing new cross-sectoral and cross-border industrial value-chains, including in particular SMEs, to foster the development of Blue Growth industries in Europe and beyond. This development is based on the construction of new value chains and the reconfiguration of existing ones driven by the integration of new technologies and know-how between Water, Aerospace, ICT and Agriculture cluster actors/industries.
The project intends to achieve the following specific objectives:
To enhance the development across Europe of new value chains in the Blue Growth industries through a systematic approach providing entrepreneurship and innovation support to individual and groups of SMEs in the three target areas
To support the creation of fertile regional ecosystems (Smart Specialisation Strategies) that provide the framework conditions for supporting and funding the emergence of collaboration actions between SMEs and between the cluster partners
To support the development of large-scale demonstrators for Blue Growth
To foster the creation or the improvement of market ready technologies, products (goods and services) or the improvement of production processes with the reduction of raw material consumption
To offer SMEs the opportunity to extend their markets worldwide
To deliver a methodology for facilitating the identification of market trends and project ideas emergence in an inter-cluster, cross-border and cross-sectoral collaboration driven context
NEPTUNE project focuses on the three following axes of the Blue Growth sector:
- Water management in urban (smart city and smart grids adapted to drinking water and wastewater infrastructures) and rural environments (rationale irrigation, sustainable agriculture);
- Fluvial and maritime transport and port logistics
- Environment and marine renewable energy
The EU faces huge challenges in food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime and inland water management. Blue Growth solutions can play an important role in meeting these challenges and unlock the potential of oceans and inland water for the benefit of European competitiveness. Blue Growth is identified as a key emerging industry to be supported via inter cluster collaboration . Seas and oceans are indeed drivers for the European economy and have great potential for innovation and growth.
Therefore, NEPTUNE aims at developing new cross-sectoral and cross-border industrial value-chains, including notably SMEs, to foster the development of Blue Growth industries in Europe and beyond. The project brings together 10 of Europe’s leading clusters from 7 countries and 2 additional innovation, creativity and inter-cluster expert organisations to implement this ambitious project.
NEPTUNE focuses on two main concepts:
- An innovative Open Space Platform tool that refers to the collaborative space and innovation animation techniques via a project emergence methodology that aims to help SMEs and other stakeholders to identify market trends and opportunities and support the incubation of Blue Growth projects and innovation ideas.
- The entrepreneurship and innovation support scheme which covers a large range of measures to directly support SME innovation projects with a complete set of financial vouchers for coaching, mentoring, internationalisation and innovation support aimed at accelerating and enhancing SME growth and job creation.
- The innovative Open Space Platform
An innovative methodology will be implemented to support the identification of market trends and the emergence of new ideas, based on 3 main tools, mixing virtual and physical approaches:
- Open-spaces for remote collaboration, using collaborative virtual environment (immersive tools)
- Interclustering innovation clubs implementing a creativity methodology to identify market trends and incubate project ideas
- Online B2B brokerage and matchmaking events and one face to face showcase event
- Entrepreneurship and innovation supportscheme
At least 75% of the total budget is to be redistributed directly to high impact projects led by SMEs (individually or in groups). NEPTUNE will facilitate this by providing an innovation support and a go-to-market tool kit that will encompass a range of instruments.
NEPTUNE will make available to SMEs an entrepreneurship and innovation toolkit, well-balanced between coaching activities operated by clusters, and a financial voucher system to access additional external expertise. The dedicated methodology for supporting SMEs innovation projects will stimulate the emergence of 3 categories of solutions: (1) Improvement of existing technologies, services or goods; (2) New services or goods; (3) Improved production processes in particular with the scope of replacing/reducing the use of consumable resources (water, energy etc…) by the use/purchase of a service (aerospace, ICT, etc…).
- Horizontal and management actions
NEPTUNE will put in place innovative monitoring, evaluation and dissemination tools and will seek to enhance user involvement, for example by involving end-users and potential customers in large scale demonstartors and facilitating connections with existing living labs or test beds where solutions will be tested under real-life conditions will also be made.
NEPTUNE expects to support at least 100 European SMEs for the development of 40 new innovative solutions from the company creation to the reinforcement of the SMEs beneficiaries (e.g. improvement of the production processes/ new products or services/ large scale demonstrators/ international deployment) .
The innovation performance of SMEs will be enhanced through the access to Blue Growth value chains (created or reconfigurated value chains at a European level).
Finally, NEPTUNE expects to link RIS3 and other funding mechanisms to mobilize additional funding for up to 20 SME driven projects ideas
The medium to long term expected impacts of NEPTUNE project are listed below:
- reduction of water consumption,
- reduction on energy demand related water processing and irrigation,
- deployment of advanced solutions for water management,
- deployment of advanced solutions for port logistic and maritime transport,
- deployment of e-services for maritime surveillance and ports,
- reduction of costs for maritime transportation (freight and passengers),
- improvement of the transmission grids infrastructure
- reduction of cost for marine renewable energy technologies,
- enhanced policy maker and public awareness about marine environment protection and management.
Supporting actors of the NEPTUNE project
Potential users of NEPTUNE solutions and regional authorities in charge of Smart Specialisation Strategies:
- Acciò, Agency for company competitiveness (ES)
- Aquitaine Region (FR)
- Atlantic Port of Bordeaux (FR)
- Compania De Apa Arics Turda Region (RO)
- Hellenic republic, Region of Western Greece (GR)
- Lombardy Region (IT)
- Maritime Office GDYNIA (PL)
- Municipality of Cluj-Napoca (RO)
- Regional Agency for innovation and internationalisation of companies – PACA Region (FR)
Other stakeholders of Blue Growth:
- Agricultural and Veterinary University of Cluj-Napoca ( RO)
- AgroTransilvania Cluster (RO)
- Aries Transilvania (RO)
- Clujhub centre (RO)
- ClujIT Cluster (RO)
- Cluster CAT.AL, Lombardy Region (IT)
- Mercator Ocean, European centre for analysis and forecasting ocean (FR)
- National Research Institute (RO)
- Oradea municipality (RO)
- Oradea University (RO)
- Technical University of Cluj-Napoca (RO)
- TREC Energy Cluster (RO)
Events organised by the project
From December 2016 to May 2017: Interclustering Innovation Clubs
Interclustering innovation clubs targeting different Blue Growth areas will be launched. These events will be held physically in each partner region in connected meeting rooms allowing all the participants to work simultaneously together in a same virtual room. These clubs will be cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and cross-border. By following a structured and shared method, they will foster the emergence of innovative projects, products and/or services for Blue Growth.
From February 2017 to June 2017: Webinars and online matchmaking events
Two webinars to present the NEPTUNE call for SMEs and Would-be entrepreneurs opportunities will be organised in parallel with two online B2B event to bring together SMEs and other innovation actors and foster cross-border partnerships.
October 2018: Showcase event to promote SMEs granted projects
A showcase event will be organised in Brussels in October 2018 to promote the results of the SMEs granted projects and support them in finding relevant innovation and business opportunities and partners.