Meet the Blue Cluster! Flanders-based innovation platform
About Blue Cluster
Blue Cluster is a Flanders-based innovation platform that focuses on the development and promotion of sustainable economic activities at sea. This platform supports businesses in a neutral manner in setting up partnerships with other companies, knowledge institutions and government bodies to develop and implement innovation projects. Blue Cluster also stimulates knowledge sharing and strives to increase societal support for the Blue Economy.
Blue Cluster is a membership organisation. They have nearly 200 members and partners, 85% of which are enterprises. The other members represent knowledge institutions, industry associations, training centres, public agencies, etc. The membership base is very diverse: some of our members are active in aquaculture, tourism, engineering and logistics, while others focus on energy, IT, AI, security or healthcare.
Sustainable blue economy
To further advance the sustainable blue economy, Blue Cluster has identified six specific and two cross-sectional focus areas, namely Coastal protection & use of mineral resources; Renewable energy & freshwater production; Maritime connection; Sustainable seafood & marine biotechnology; Blue tourism; Ocean health & waste solutions; Ecosystem approach; and Smart Sea. They have set ambitious targets and have devised a roadmap for each of these focus areas.
As far as the focus area Sustainable seafood & marine biotechnology is concerned, Blue Cluster focusses on efficient and sustainable fisheries & aquaculture and explore the potential of marine resources. They are convinced that aquaculture, and more in particular mariculture, holds the key to sustainable food security as Blue Cluster firmly believes that it can help meet this global challenge in a sustainable way.
Currently, Blue Cluster is involved in a variety of interesting aquaculture projects, some of which are specifically linked to seaweed (limited selection):
· SYMAPA aims, among other things, to identify sturdy and safe production and harvest systems for bivalves and seaweeds in the North Sea;
· BlueMarine³.com strives to increase the available knowledge on breeding house technologies for different kinds of species (including seaweeds);
· ValgORIZE focuses on the development and creation of an open platform for sustainable production of algae products.
Blue Cluster & seaweed
Seaweed is currently already used in products such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and livestock feed. In the near future, new applications are likely to be found in all sectors of industry. What’s more, seaweed also has a huge carbon sequestration potential and may therefore make a valuable contribution in the fight against climate change.
It is the ambition of Blue Cluster to help local and foreign companies roll out ambitious projects linked to seaweed. They can also support businesses by sharing relevant knowledge and expertise. Last but not least, they also boost public acceptance of seaweed by promoting aquaculture in general and seaweed in particular in their communications.
Image: Impression of aquaculture in the North Sea (© De Blauwe Cluster)