Ireland was well represented at the recent Blue Technologies Forum, hosted by the Marine Board-ESF, in Brussels on the 18th of April 2012. The aim of the Forum, attended by over 150 representatives from across Europe, was to identify the next big ideas (blue technologies) that will drive growth in the marine and maritime sectors into the future. Topics presented included: autonomous ocean observatories; seeing with sound (acoustics); building with nature; lab-on-a-chip (miniaturisation), lateral thinking with respect to wave energy (standing wave tube electro active polymers) and the use of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) to assess the emerging technologies and their closeness to market.
Opening the Forum, Prof John Delaney (University of Washington, USA) delivered an inspiring keynote address explaining that "combining emergent technologies (drawn from robotics, nanotechnology, ICT and ecogenomics) will fundamentally transform our understanding of the innate complexity of our planetary life support system – the global ocean." This is being further developed in the Americas (North and South) through the ambitious Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI, USA) http://www.oceanobservatories.org/. Prof Delaney will be one of the keynote speakers at forthcoming European Science Open Forum 2012 Atlantic Symposium to be held in Dublin in July (http://esof2012.org).
Irish speakers included Prof Fiona Regan of the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR-DCU) who described work being undertaken in Dublin City University on bio-inspired marine anti-fouling strategies. David Murphy (AquaTT Ltd) described work being undertaken through an EU funded FP7 project, MarineTT on the problems encountered in transferring results from the laboratory bench to commercial applications.
Geoffrey O'Sullivan, Marine Institute, acted as chair and moderator of the panel discussion: Investing in New Knowledge.
Dr Harry Kolar, of IBM's Sensor-based Solutions Research Centre (USA), using the SMARTBAY Ireland Initiative as a case study, noted that "advancements in areas such as high performance analytics and modeling, real‐time event‐driven approaches, data management, sensor design, communications technology and data transport are benefiting a diverse range of marine and maritime sectors from flood condition monitoring to commercial fishing, aquaculture and public health."
Other Irish participants included Dr Barbara Fogarty (National Co-ordinator, Advanced Marine Technology) and Dr Ilaria Nardello (National Coordinator, Ireland's Marine Biotechnology Programme). Beaufort Marine Research Award PhD student Tim Sullivan (DCU) presented a poster on his work on "Marine Bio-inspired approaches to anti-fouling technologies.
A full programme and further information can be viewed on the event website: http://www.marineboard.eu/.