A specialist international business network is calling for greater opportunity to enable blue economy entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs to scale up and fulfil their growth potential.
The Funding Atlantic Network for Blue Economy Technology Transfer (FANBEST) has identified that blue economy businesses are facing key challenges to becoming more competitive, hindering their innovation and, in turn, growth.
Barriers include a lack of awareness of funding opportunities available to maritime businesses, how to access investment platforms and the quantifiable environmental benefits that directly result from investment.
Adrián Dios from University of Santiago de Compostela, lead partner at the FANBEST Consortium, said: “The blue economy plays a critical role in preserving our planet, with work carried out in sustainable development and the safeguarding of the world’s oceans – we need to give it the support it deserves to thrive.
“Blue businesses, which include those who provide marine renewable energy, aquaculture, mariculture, coastal tourism and marine biotechnology, are vital to the long-term success of the blue economy, but many businesses in this sector are facing barriers to growth.
“We must nurture the potential of blue economy businesses and coordinate transnational efforts to enable them to make the adjustments necessary to accelerate their development.
“Whether it’s facilitating investment opportunities, supporting innovation and product development or educating entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs on how to access funding, we need to create that trajectory to growth.”
The blue economy represents approximately 5.4 million jobs and generates almost €500 billion a year.
FANBEST works with thousands of innovative blue economy businesses, enabling them to drive innovation, increase their competitiveness and, crucially, unlock doors to investment and business growth.
The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, one of the FANBEST partners, is hosting a free virtual transnational seminar and B2B Event that will bring together innovative businesses from across Europe, offering a platform to showcase their innovation to potential investors.
The seminar, which takes place on Friday 25th March from 9:30am to 2pm GMT, is focused on providing support to businesses with products or services in the sector who are ready to scale up, giving them access to business support organisations and private sector consultancies who can provide coaching and mentorship. The seminar will also provide a platform for investors who are seeking innovative business opportunities and are keen to support ground-breaking projects in the maritime sector.
The seminar offers a unique opportunity to see first-hand businesses that have benefited from FANBEST’s support.
Susana Córdoba, Head of International Trade at The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in FANBEST’s incredible work and all that they do to enable blue economy SMEs to prosper.
“Many people don’t understand or are simply unaware of just how critical the blue economy is in the climate emergency. Blue economy small businesses play such a vital part in conserving our oceans, seas, marines and much more.
“We’ll never be truly ‘green’ without the blue and this month’s seminar provides huge opportunities to blue SMEs in getting the right support, access to funding and specialist coaching advice they need to succeed.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming many blue economy startups from across Europe and it’s great to be facilitating such a key event for the future of the blue economy.”
HydroWing, an exciting young blue economy startup is one of the businesses that have benefitted from the FANBEST programme. The business is dedicated to developing a revolutionary new technology to harness the power of the tide. Tidal energy is a cost-effective and ecological solution to generating power for remote and isolated communities – such as islands relying on costly diesel generators – and commercial deployments.
On learning about FANBEST’s fully funded coaching programme from one of its partners – the University of Exeter – the team at HydroWing were able to completely pivot their business focus and raise approximately £2 million in investment. As part of FANBEST’s coaching programme, HydroWing received fully funded consultancy that was delivered via digestible modules to suit their busy schedules.
During these sessions, HydroWing learned about business modelling and strategic planning, applying their new knowledge to identify strong and weaker areas. This allowed them to address and rectify gaps in the business while reducing efforts in areas less critical to long-term business success. The exercise resulted in a crucial business shift. From primarily being a service provider in the maritime sector, HydroWing pivoted its focus to developing new technologies, securing UK and international projects, and, ultimately, scaling up the business.
Bevan Wray, Project Engineer at HydroWing, said: “The FANBEST programme enabled us to simplify our business model and create methods and materials that allow us to communicate more compellingly to investors.
“It’s definitely increased our success in raising funds outside of mainstream channels, such as through our bank, and we were delighted to raise approximately £2 million of investment.’’