The MarTERA consortium, consisting of 16 collaborating countries, has organized joint calls that are co-funded by the EU for transnational research projects on different thematic areas. The focus of development in MarTERA is given to technologies (instead of sectors) due to their potentially large impact to a wide range of application fields.
MarTERA has had four calls. The first MarTERA call was a co-funded call in 2017, initiated by 18 funding organisations from 16 regions/countries and cofunded by the European Union under Horizon 2020. 19 projects were granted 33 million EUR funding from the national funding organisations and cofunding by the EU and started in early/mid 2018. The second call, in 2019, resulted in 12 proposals selected for funding and a total of 15 million EUR in requested funding.
The third MarTERA in September 2020 and was initiated by ministries/funding organisations from 11 countries: Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. The transnational call has a budget of about 13 million € for collaborative research and innovation projects and 9 consortia were scheduled to start from mid 2021.
The fourth call was launched in January 2021. This call was initiated by ministries/funding organisations from 9 countries: Belarus, Belgium, Germany, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa and Turkey. The total funding budget is EUR 8.5 million. Eight full proposals with a total requested funding of € 9 million passed the Step 2 procedure and are currently working on the national/regional contract negotiations with the involved funding agencies. The joint R&I projects are expected to start from mid 2022.
The main objective of MarTERA is to address a number of actual challenges that can be identified as follows:
- National and European research in several marine and maritime sectors is often poorly coordinated. Synergies towards implementing common goals could only be achieved through better coordination and harmonizing the foci of funding programmes;
- While collaborative projects funded by the EC are often quite large and complex to attract participation especially of SMEs, national funding schemes offer limited opportunities to collaborate with foreign partners, especially if cross-border funding is impossible;
- The participation in trans-national projects offers advantages by using respective national funding, to tackle complex projects which cannot be accomplished by one nation alone;
- Transnational projects provide a better chance for innovation to enter into new markets;
- The cross-cutting perspective in technology development can lead to innovations capable of benefiting more than one sector, hence increasing the impact of the funded trans-national projects.
- Bringing industry and research actors across borders together will strengthen Europe’s economic position underpinning Blue Growth.
- Through trans-national cooperation it is feasible to create critical mass and focus excellence on precompetitive breakthroughs, which can benefit marine and maritime industries in general and make them more competitive in the longer term, thereby maintaining Europe’s competitive edge.
- To create critical mass and address the needs for technologies in maritime operations.
- Bring new knowledge-intensive products and services for marine and maritime activities to the market.
- Increase the resource efficiency, security, safety and environmental compliance of maritime activities.
- Help implement the European strategy on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), in particular with regards to advanced materials and manufacturing.
- Support trans-national, pan European research networks and synergies
- among national/regional and European EU research programmes
- Facilitate economies of scale and research investment efficiency by better alining national/regional research programmes, in particular within the Joint Programming Initiative “Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans”.
- Strengthening the dissemination of maritime and marine research results at the national and European level.
Sectors with a high potential for sustainable blue economy like waterborne transport, shipbuilding & ship repair, offshore and sub-sea activities, monitoring and observations, can support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole and use the potential of Europe’s oceans, seas and coasts for jobs, value and sustainability. Technological breakthroughs are of importance for improving ocean governance, which is by itself a big market for maritime industries recalling that European countries spend approximately 1 billion Euros annually on purchasing and running infrastructure to monitor the seas and oceans.
Research and innovation activities in these fields cannot be tackled either at national levels alone, or by a single sector alone. Coordinated actions are required for the maritime industry to strengthen Europe’s position in this important and complex economic field in a global market. Concentrated and targeted Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) funding on common research priorities will foster maritime and marine technologies in Europe. In this highly competitive sector networking, trans- national collaboration and joint initiatives are the keys to success.