CALLMEBLUE – Kick Off Meeting in Rome

The 4th and 5th December 2023 it took place the Kick-Off Meeting of EMFAF Project CALLMEBLUE at ForMare’s premises located in Palazzo Colonna, Rome. This two-day meeting brought together the Project Consortium that, leaded by ForMare – Polo Nazionale per lo Shipping, gathers together the main representatives among Maritime Clusters of the northern and southern Mediterranean shore. The meeting saw also the participation of representatives of Union for Mediterranean, Associated Partners and members of the Advisory Board.  

The role of maritime clusters is increasingly important in the process of connecting public and private entities working in all transversal sectors related to blue economy at both national and Mediterranean level. Maritime clusters are indeed crucial facilitators of networking, technology transfer, internationalization and innovation between SMEs, large companies, research centers, universities etc., and they act as key actors to promote sustainable investments of the blue economy. In this context, CALLMEBLUE – Cluster ALLiance MEd BLUE project, which is a result of a further action toward the WestMED Alliance priorities , aiming to strengthen existing clusters alliances in the Mediterranean area in order to accelerate north-south regional cooperation processes towards the emerging of strategic maritime clusters in North African area. 

The consortium engaged a fruitful discussion on the preliminary stage of the project, while presenting the first steps to be taken. Each WP Leader and Co-Leader collaborate in strong synergy to provide a clear overview of the Work Packages. In particular, during the first day of meeting, it was presented the WP2 – Mapping and Networking amongst embryonic and emerging maritime cluster (M2-M8), leaded by Cluster BIG and Federazione del Mare. WP2 will define the needs assessment methodology and it will aim at creating the proper framework on which the foreseen actions in the following WPs will be implemented. 

Indeed, this WP will serve as a preliminary milestone work for determining the baseline for the actions of WP3– Empowerment towards setting up and strengthening emerging maritime clusters ecosystem (M9-M24), leaded by CMMA and Leanovator and WP4 – Strengthening regional cooperation and policy support (M9-M24), leaded by CMT and ForMare. These two WPs will be interlinked in the operational stages of implementation. In occasion of the Kick-Off Meeting, the leaders of each WP presented an overview of their activities. In particular, WP3 will implement concrete actions at local level based on the results of the stakeholders mapping and assessment process identified in WP2 and it will focus on territorial level with specific piloting actions aimed at the participation of all relevant local actors identified. On the other side, WP4 will focus its actions on a regional dimension approach with the aim to engage relevant regional/sub-regional policy bodies in order to raise awareness on the relevance of maritime clusters and of the blue economy sector in the policymaking process and plans of investments including attractiveness of the sector. WP5 – Dissemination and fostering sustainable follow-up of Maritime Clusters in the Mediterranean (M1 – M24) lead by Forum Oceano and Leanovator, will disseminate on activities and results of the project, developing a Blue Alliance Platform. In this project context, the role of Associated partners and Advisory Board network, will be crucial  to support piloting activities at territorial and regional level and to engage key actors of future maritime clusters.

The second day of meeting was dedicated to the WP1 – Project Management and Coordination (M1 – M24), leaded by ForMare. This WP interacts with every WP, by monitoring and ensuring the quality and reporting of the activities. The main objective of this WP is to coordinate and manage the entire implementation of the project including administrative, managerial and quality-control, establishing procedures and relations with the EU Commission, as funding body, and making partnership cooperation productive and effective.

In the frame of the second day, a Workshop Session has been dedicated to fruitful discussions on how the project can support  and address policies and priorities at regional and country level. The workshop saw the participation of Advisory Board members such as representatives of the Egyptian Ministry of Transport, of  the Moroccan Department of Fisheries and of the recently funded Mauritanian Maritime Cluster and UfM Representatives. The workshop represented a great opportunity for all participants to exchange views and opinions on the future of Maritime Clusters in the Mediterranean area allowing to further strengthen the WestMed Cluster Alliance, including key priorities to be addressed in the blue economy sector.

We are looking forward to continuing this amazing journey with Mediterranean Maritime Clusters and to implement the new steps and future actions to raise awareness on the relevance of Maritime clusters as key actors for a sustainable blue economy policy.