Hundreds of innovative entrepreneurs and leading investors from across Europe are gathered in Brussels yesterday, looking for partners to create sustainable economic growth from our seas and oceans. Why? Because the European Commission is organising Blue Invest, the first-ever, EU-wide matchmaking event between start-ups and investors in the blue economy.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Boosting investment is a core priority for this Commission. We have been successful in developing our financial instruments to mobilise private capital for sustainable investments. For example the Investment Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments has already catalysed investments worth over €280 billion in Europe. I encourage everyone to make the most of the EU financial instruments available when developing the future blue economy”.
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “Our experience shows that matching the right maritime start-up to the right investor can create an ocean of opportunity. That is the goal of Blue Invest. There is enormous interest among the general public about the sustainable use of our ocean. Our job is to make sure that those with the skill to turn public expectations into action can get the right backing. Ocean energy and blue biotech, for example, have the potential to be game-changers. The huge turn-out at Blue Invest illustrates how the European Commission is at the forefront of ocean investment.”
The blue economy represents every economic activity at sea or in coastal areas. It includes traditional sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, as well as emerging businesses like ocean energy, desalination and biotechnology. As a whole, the sector is growing faster than the rest of the EU economy and it has the potential to double its size, supporting 7 million jobs and creating €1 trillion in turnover by 2030.
Matching business opportunities
At the event, twenty companies selected from a list of 120 candidates pitched their investment proposal in front of a jury of professional investors. In addition, companies were “speed-dating” with potential business partners. More than 650 of these short meetings took place during the event, highlighting the clear need and interest in the sector. Participating companies come from all over Europe and beyond, as far as Malaysia, Senegal or the USA.
Companies received first-hand advice from European Investment Bank Vice President Jonathan Taylor, industry leaders and financial services experts about scaling up their business and raising interest from potential investors.
€6 billion for the blue economy
In addition to public funding, which will remain an important tool for the EU, the Union’s future long-term budget aims to crowd in private funding for investments to boost growth and jobs.
In its 2 May proposal for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) the Commission proposed to commit well over €6 billion through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. In addition, a substantial part of the research, regional and social funds will go to communities and organisations involved in the blue economy. The Commission is on hand during the Blue Invest event to explain the different EU funding opportunities available to companies in the blue economy.