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Marine Researchers Brave Elements For Workshop On Cross-Cutting Opportunities In EU Funding

9th January 2016

#MarineScience - More than 60 marine researchers from third level institutes, Government agencies and SMEs braved the elements to get to the Marine Institute in Oranmore on Thursday 7 January for information and advice on the many EU funding opportunities for marine research.

The workshop – titled Cross Cutting Marine Opportunities in EU Funding, as previously reported on Afloat.ie – was organised by the Marine Institute’s Research Office.

Welcoming participants, John Evans, director of policy, innovation and research at the Marine Institute, highlighted the success of Ireland’s marine researchers to date in winning competitive EU funding.

“Irish researchers have won 3.6% of the available funding for Blue Growth topics under the most recent round of results announced by the European Commission for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, and this rises to 4.6% when marine related topics relating to sustainable food security are considered," he said.

"This is becoming a consistent pattern, with Irish marine researchers winning more European competitive funding than would be expected from a country our size.”

Evans also spoke of the need for a focus on national research collaboration to maintain and improve this competitive position, and the importance of relevant national strategies as tools for researchers preparing funding proposals, specifically Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, and the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2015-2020.

The Marine Institute's Dr Fiona Grant, national contact point for marine aspects of Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, gave an overview of the priority topics for Blue Growth with a total of €148.5m available funding with contributions from the Climate, Energy and Transport parts of the Horizon 2020 programme.

'Linking healthy oceans and seas with healthy people’ was one of the key topics covered. Dr Grant mentioned the concept of the ocean as a "blue gym", citing a recent European Marine Board position paper that shows the significant impact of the oceans on human health and wellbeing.

Dr Sean McCarthy of Hyperion Ltd gave very practical advice on how to write a competitive Horizon 2020 proposal, with lots of insights for both new and experienced funding applicants. He told scientists to focus on the potential impact of the research proposal.

“Begin your proposal with impact – the impact is the big issue. Then write the science around the impact,” he said.

Other advice from Dr McCarthy included contacting the national contact point to ensure a better success rate.

“When writing your proposal it’s important to understand how the research priorities have been selected and the national contact point can give you insight into this,” he added.

Gerry Finn, director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly and national contact point for the INTERREG Atlantic Area, gave an overview of the INTERREG Atlantic Area Programme 2014-2020 and success stories from the 2007-2013 ERDF programmes., under which €12.9m in ERDF funding was approved to 56 Irish projects.

Also speaking on the day was Michael O’Brien, EU Programme liaison officer, who gave an overview of eligibility criteria and guidelines on what makes a successful proposal under this financing mechanism. Four priority areas have been identified which include:

  • Stimulating innovation and competitiveness.
  • Fostering resource efficiency.
  • Strengthening the territory’s resilience to risks of natural, climate and human origin.
  • Enhancing biodiversity and the natural and cultural assets.

Over €140m will be available under the call from 2014-2020 which is expected to be launched in the middle of 2016.

O’Brien advised that the technical parameters "are not formally agreed yet by the member states and there may be further changes over the coming weeks. The working group for the programme meets again shortly to advance the progress on the programme manual and application process.”

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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