The northern region of Belgium called Flanders has launched a Blue Cluster – an organization dedicated to developing and promoting economic activities that are linked to the sea – including marine energy undertakings.
The organization brings together a group of innovative private companies active in a wide range of sectors as its members, who, according to the Blue Cluster – believe that enhanced cross-sector partnerships, and better cooperation with knowledge centers and government institutions, will lead to new and innovative investments and projects in the Belgian Part of the North Sea and beyond.
In concrete terms, this translates into the search for solutions relating to coastal defenses, renewable energy at sea, aquaculture, marine connections and the clearing of oceans and seas.
Ecologically conscious coastal tourism is also part of the goals of the newly created organization, according to the Flemish department of Economy, Science and Innovation.
Fully incorporating cutting-edge small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the Blue Cluster will seek to ensure that they can accelerate their growth and ‘leapfrog’ into international market.
Apart from the infrastructural benefits, these solutions “will create economic return for Flanders by creating new industries, opening up new markets for export and improving the competitiveness of the companies involved,” the Flemish economy department said.
Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders, said: “The North Sea is not only an immense natural resource, it also offers a sea of research and exploitation opportunities in many sectors, from energy to food, transport, cosmetics and health, and that potential is still underutilized.”
“That’s why I am delighted that a number of Flemish companies and institutions that are at the top of the world in their niche bundle their knowledge and experience to research and utilize the economic and ecological potential of the North Sea.”
In economic terms, a cluster is not limited to a single sector, rather – it will foster partnerships between companies from various sectors that would otherwise not work together, especially in the blue economy because of the complexity of the issues involved, according to Blue Cluster.
Also, a company with nascent products or services in the newly-developing activities – up until now without a representative organization that would serve to inform, and ease the access to government initiatives – the cluster said.
The Blue Cluster is based in Ostend, a Belgian coastal city and municipality, located in the province of West Flanders.