Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 132

Horizon heir
MARINET is approaching the end of its current phase of operation and
has successfully operated six calls for transnational access to the testing
facilities. All were oversubscribed, and the first five resulted in 159
individual projects comprising a total of 659 facility-weeks of testing. For
an initiative that accounts for only 0.5% of the EU budget on RIs in the
period, this cost-conscious effort has had a potentially huge impact on
a nascent renewable energy sector, many members of which are located
in outlying maritime areas of Europe.
MARINET presents a complementary innovation scene to the large
industrial companies entering the sector, so far mostly in offshore wind.
SMEs, academics and test facilities are working on next-generation
technologies to develop and apply sound scientific principles and
standards in the effort. New innovations can grow in the MARINET
ecosystem, which stresses staged development, to a point where their
developers are capable of attracting investment with more robust
technology offerings.
Spurred on by the emphasis on linking innovation and science in Horizon
2020, the MARINET team is working to launch a successor initiative that
will take the industry to the next level and help Europe to create new
innovation successes in the next decades.
AS
public infrastructures form the substrate of civil society,
research infrastructures (RI) are the backbone of scientific
communities. Public infrastructures have been an
essential enabler in the physical sciences and are becoming a prominent
feature in civil life, environmental and social sciences, and humanities.
EU RIs can be traced back to before 1990. More than a decade has
passed since a European Commission communication on the future of
European research stressed the importance of EU level infrastructures
to improve the continent’s research performance, citing examples such
as CERN and GÉANT.
Up from €30m in the Second Framework Programme, the EU spent
€1.7bn on RIs in the Seventh Framework Programme. There are now
more than 200 in operation, from small e-infrastructures to €100m-
scale schemes, most of which aim to mobilise major EU member state
funding. Generation of knowledge and the resulting innovation depend
on the quality and availability of RIs.
RIs also provide opportunities to innovators in applied fields. The need
to cover a wide range of disciplines, and for industrial relevance, has
been clear from the beginning. However, connecting the world of science
and industrial innovation in the fast-paced world of business is a
challenge. Nowhere is this more true than in the energy sector, where
renewables are transforming Europe. Behind successes like solar PV and
onshore wind, a cohort of next-generation technologies is advancing.
Big and small
Combining the ‘big science’ nature of most RIs with the struggle of
industrial innovators, especially in SMEs, is a tall order. The MARINET
(Marine Research Infrastructures Network for Energy Technologies)
project is an example where, after four years of intensive operations, we
are proud to say that this has been successfully achieved.
Policy and industry expectations for marine renewables are high and
challenges many. Development of the relatively immature wave, tidal
and deep-water wind is driven by innovative SMEs, most of which are
European. Focused on their business and struggling through the
‘valley of death’, many are unaware of the latest research of the
scientific community.
MARINET was set up to link industrial innovators and best-in-class R&D
facilities mobilised by the network. This has been an active process where
the network interacts with developers and ensures that they are kept
informed about each other’s progress.
There are 28 partners that own and operate the 45 individual facilities
offered, whilst one SME is in the consortium to specifically assist other
SMEs. Knowledge and experience is also disseminated constantly, and
with a modest budget (€9m grant) MARINET has in fact catalysed a new
business ecosystem of industry innovators and research labs working
together to speed up the development of a new industry.
Winds of innovation
Dr Jan Erik Hanssen
of 1-Tech details how an EU research infrastructure is
assisting innovation in marine renewable energy
132
I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N E R G Y
Dr Jan Erik Hanssen
1-Tech SPRL
Brussels, Belgium
E M A I L
B R OW S E
H O R I Z O N
2 0 2 0
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