Ireland collaborating with Cyprus on Centre of Excellence for Marine and Maritime Research

Ireland collaborating with Cyprus on Centre of Excellence for Marine and Maritime Research. Photo Cr David Branigan, Oceansport.The European Commission has announced that project "CMMI Maritec-X" was awarded a 15M€ grant under the Coordination and Support Action H2020-WIDESPREAD-2018-2020 call. The project's main objective is to establish a Centre of Excellence for Marine and Maritime Research in Cyprus (the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute, CMMI) within the next seven years. In this initiative, the Marine Institute and SmartBay Ireland is partnering with Cypriot government bodies (Municipality of Larnaka), private companies and organizations (GeoImaging Ltd., the Maritime Institute of Eastern Mediterranean, SignalGenerix Ltd. and the Limassol Chamber of Commerce), as well as with the University of Southampton, UK.

The new Institute to be formed in Cyprus will focus on research, technology development and innovation in several sectors critical for the Cypriot economy, such as maritime transport, marine ecosystems, offshore energy and other societal needs in that region of the Mediterranean. The project is currently in grant agreement preparation and is expected to kick-off in Q2 2019.

This project complements the ambitions set out for Ireland in Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth relating to the development of our shipping and maritime industry by enabling Ireland to build expertise in these areas. More broadly, the HOOW strategy sets out clear targets in terms of turnover from the marine economy by 2020, and increasing the industry's contribution to GDP to 2.4% a year by 2030. The Maritec-X project will contribute to these objectives and is also consistent with Ireland's Marine Research & Innovation Strategy. The Strategy supports the implementation of Innovation 2020, Ireland's national Research and Innovation Strategy, which identifies Marine as one of eight areas of focus for social progress and the economy.

The Marine Institute's contribution to the project (with a combined award of €2m) will be managed jointly by the Irish Maritime Development Office and SmartBay Ireland. This project will be of great benefit as it will allow Ireland to build national research and development capacity and to collaborate with institutions and organisations across Europe in an ambitious project that will contribute to expertise in building marine and maritime clusters.

Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute said "We are delighted at news of the Maritec-X award. The award acknowledges the excellence and leadership that both the Marine Institute and SmartBay demonstrate in the European maritime landscape. We look forward to cooperating and collaborating with our Cypriot partners to the benefit of both innovation-led maritime economies."

Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland said "We welcome news that another large scale H2020 award has been achieved through an industry-academia partnership. Ireland continues to perform well under the programme and there is significant competitive funding available for Irish researchers and companies under Horizon 2020 40% of the budget remaining. EI and partner agencies are committed to supporting participation in H2020 to realise the Irish Government's target of winning €1.2bn from the EU's €70bn Horizon 2020 R&I budget."

John Breslin, General Manager of SmartBay Ireland commented, "We are delighted to be involved in this project to establish the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI) as a European marine and maritime centre of excellence. As part of this project, we will be reaching out to Irish businesses and research organisations who wish to collaborate with CMMI and its stakeholders, to help broker the development of joint projects and funding opportunities".


For further information:
• Holly Faulkner, IMDO t. 087 7851155 e.
• Sinéad Coyne, Marine Institute t. 087 9477090 e.

The Marine Institute was set up under the Marine Institute Act 1991: "to undertake, to coordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development and to provide such services related to research and development, that in the opinion of the Institute, will promote economic development and create employment and protect the marine environment." The Marine Institute is the State agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. They provide scientific and technical advice to Government to help inform policy and to support the sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.

The Irish Maritime Development Office provides a number of tailored services to businesses with a maritime interest looking to scale-up and develop within Ireland, or those considering Ireland as a place to do business. The organisation hosts regular industry events throughout the country, facilitates site visits and introductions with key stakeholders, advises on the availability of national expertise and infrastructure, produces up-to-date statistics and analysis on the performance of Ireland's maritime industry and information on accessing government supports, including grants and funding initiatives. The IMDO is also Ireland's dedicated shortsea shipping promotion centre, one of 22 currently operating in Europe, offering impartial advice on the use of shortsea shipping and logistics.

SmartBay Ireland supports the national marine test facility for the development of innovative products and services for the global maritime sector. This includes the trial and validation of novel marine sensors, prototype equipment and the collection and dissemination of marine data to national and international users of the facility.

A New National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021
A new National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy was identified as a key enabling action in Ireland's Integrated Marine Plan - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth. This need was echoed in Innovation 2020, the national Research and Innovation Strategy. As part of the preparation of the Strategy, the Marine Institute undertook a detailed review of national and European policies and strategies in relation to the Marine. This process identified the 15 major themes that are considered under the Strategy. This approach was taken to ensure that the strategy is focused on applied and demand-led research, while recognising the importance of a fully functional marine research system that extends from basic research, through applied research, to translational utilisation of research outputs.

H2020 - Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation
The interim evaluation of FP7 (November 2010) identified that some Member States, mainly those that joined the EU after 2004, had low participation rates in FP7 projects. Widening actions under the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation part of Horizon 2020 address the causes of low participation by fully exploiting the potential of Europe's talent pool. It ensures that the benefits of an innovation-led economy are both maximised and widely distributed across the European Union. Synergies with European Structural and Investment funds are an important component.

The research & innovation divide in Europe remains a pressing challenge. In the last three years of Horizon 2020 efforts will be intensified to spread excellence and broaden participation across Europe. This will be achieved by encouraging organisations in Widening countries to further develop and take better advantage of their research and innovation potential through a number of specific measures involving investing, mentoring, networking, communication and thematic activities.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.