The new EU Member States, Applicant Countries, Russia and Ukraine are important strategic partners for jointly improving the competitiveness of the European maritime cluster in order to cope with increasing transport demand. The New Member States and Associated Candidate States (ACC) play an important role in achieving a sustainable European transport network, considering freight corridors along major European rivers like the Danube, short sea shipping in the Baltic and Mediterranean Areas or the Northern Sea Way connecting Europe to the Far East. Around 9000 million tonne-km of goods were transported on inland waterways in these countries, in particular Romania, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland and Bulgaria, the total length of inland waterways in these countries comprising some 10 000 km. Sea ports in Romania, Bulgaria, the Baltic Republics and Turkey are among the busiest European ports in this region.
The context behind ENCOMAR-TRANSPORT was the need to support the integration of the new EU Member States, Applicant Countries, Russia and Ukraine into the European Maritime Research Area. This is important in order to support EU policies and the formation of ERA (European Research Area) as well as to support the goals defined in the maritime part of the Sustainable Surface Priority of the 6th Framework Programme - in particular to strengthen European competitiveness through scientific and technological excellence.
To support integration of the ACC and Russia, ENCOMAR-Transport aimed to help jointly use R&D potentials and resources, promoting a culture of innovation and fertilise the participation of SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) in European research. Technically, enhanced exchange of information, technology transfer and research co-operation initiated by the project will help to meet the demands of European transport policy as defined in the 2001 EU Transport White Paper, it will contribute to important initiatives like LeaderSHIP-2015 and to the objectives of the sustainable surface transport priority.
Particularly, ENCOMAR-Transport focused on:
- shipbuilding and ship repair, including ship equipment manufacturers and maritime service providers;
- waterborne (long-haul, short sea and inland waterway) transport in Europe, ACC, Russia and Ukraine;
- special consideration to intermodal transport chains including ports, rail and road transport;
- maritime Transport safety, focusing on the transport of dangerous goods, to avoid environmental hazards in European waters such as the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The efficient transport of marine natural resources was another focus of the project.
Information and Dissemination related activity was the major task of this Specific Support Action within the domain of Awareness Workshops as well as information distribution from the partner organisations towards the actors in each country.
The project comprised the following activities:
- creation of a Network of Maritime R&D National Contact Points in ACC, in Russia and Ukraine;
- informing about potentials and activities of European research in the ACC, Russia and Ukraine, by workshops in ACC and Russia;
- informing the research community and industry in the EU member states about the potentials of partners from ACC, Russia , Ukraine and Turkey , via expert workshops in the Member States;
- collection and implementation of contact data and other data relevant for initiation of R&D projects in and with ACC states;
- project preparation in three priority geographical areas, e.g. Danube Corridor.
In order to increase awareness about the potentials of European maritime research, workshops were conducted at national level and the ENCOMAR-Transport partners disseminated the information in their individual countries. This enables a broad participation of research and industrial actors in those countries, in particular encouraging the participation of SMEs.
Workshops have been organised in:
- Mediterranean: in the countries Romania, Turkey, Croatia, Bulgaria
- East-Central: in the countries Poland, (Ukraine), Hungary, Slovakia
- Russia and Baltic in the countries (Russia), Latvia, Lithuania
The general objectives of these national Awareness Workshops were as follows:
- to improve the knowledge about maritime research activities at the European level;
- to increase awareness on how the maritime research is organised in FPs of European Union;
- to break the mentality barriers in order to activate the participation of New Member States and Candidate Countries in European joint maritime research initiatives by providing up-to-date information on such possibilities;
- to bring procedures related to participation in FPs down to the people by presenting them in user-friendly forms;
- to promote Candidate Countries and New Member States participation in EU FPs;
- to stimulate the international co-operation by showing the added value and gathered knowledge presented by experts coming from 'Old' Europe - experienced partners of the consortium - and 'fresh' members of the EU.
Dissemination of information about European maritime research in the New Member States, applicant countries, Croatia, Russia and Ukraine through ENCOMAR-TRANSPORT partners succeeded in increasing awareness in the individual countries. All the planned objectives were fulfilled.
There were over 300 participants altogether in nine awareness workshops and many awareness meetings treated as additional activities.
Awareness workshops were held in the national language and that the authorised national contact points (established within ENCOMAR project) were a leading arranger of this occasions. Considering the targeted groups of participants - the final analysis shows that the majority of participants came from universities, research organisations and authorities; however there were also enterprises (industry oriented end users).
As a helping tool there were also a list of possible themes for presentation like general information about European maritime R&D, Technical information about past and current projects, showing what kind of research has already been done and what kind of information is available from past projects.
'Frequently asked questions' about European maritime R&D co-operation helped Encomar partners to answers question when disseminating information about European R&D in their countries, this document is valid for further information distribution of maritime research to institutions and industry use.
Presenting past domains and showing what kind of projects have been accepted in a certain domain (experiences and added value in the light of non-commercial & commercial benefits), practical information about how to prepare a proposal and run a project by going through the steps: 'R&D idea - > consortium -> proposal -> negotiations -> contracts -> actual work', matching domains and actual projects is the main activity for rising the awareness.
The Awareness Workshop participant's interests related to joint activities, potential R&D areas and the topics which could be potential for brokerage events were collected during workshops.
The lesson which was learnt from the awareness workshops was described in the proposal for the next steps to be proceeded at the national level. Generally the approach must be more attractive and consistent with the requirements coming directly from industry oriented partners. Such an approach is important in the light of rapid implementation of the R&D results (commercial benefits) as well as assuring that common projects are much more oriented to the applied research (current and future utilisation benefits) than basic ones. The direct added value for such an approach is to increase the overall competitiveness of European maritime industry against Far East competitors as well as to face the challenge of meeting the Lisbon Strategy targets.
Referring to the future - an extension of the ENCOMAR project - efforts are being made to attract stakeholders into the EUROMAR-BRIDGES project.