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Date: June 30

Time: Two hours and a half starting at 13:45 (12:45 in mainland Portugal and Madeira and 11:45 in the Azores).


Venue: Online

Language: English.


Goals: To explore the actual status of digital technology to support blue economy and to map potential synergies between Belgium and Portugal in order to support applications across a range of operational uses in the next years.

Summary: After the success of the first Belgian–Portuguese Routes for the Blue Economy, in 2019, which was focused on offshore wind energy, the second edition, in 2020, was organized around bio-diversity. The third event will focus on smart infrastructure, digitization, and monitoring of the marine and ocean environment.

The  III Belgian–Portuguese Routes for the Blue economy will bring together frontrunners, but also private initiatives in the Blue Growth realm together with financing agents, academia, clusters, sectoral representatives, administrations and politicians from both Portugal, Belgium, and the EU to share the actual status, express needs and exchange future developments. The event will be organised around the following topics:



  • Understanding and optimising ocean observations

  • Materials, smart infrastructure and marine robotics, incl. e.g. drones

  • Data analysis, data mining and decision support tools

  • Education and social engagement


Opening session

  • Welcome - Rui Faria da Cunha, President of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce

  • Keynote speech - Vincent Van Quickenborne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and the North Sea of Belgium

  • Keynote speech - Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of Maritime Affairs of Portugal

Opening remarks

  • “European Commission’s plans and policy on ocean observation and data” – Iain Sheperd, Senior Expert, DG Mare, European Commission

Session 1 - Understanding and optimising ocean observations

Chair: Frederico Ferreira, Forum Oceano (PT)

  • 1.1 - “Observing the ocean” Science - Telmo Morato - iAtlantic (international) (tbc)

  • 1.2 – "Ocean modelling" - Flávio Martins - University of Algarve (PT)

  • 1.3 – "Ocean Observations" - Wieter Boone/Klaas Deneudt -VLIZ (BE)


Session 2 – Safe and smart maritime operations, smart infrastructure and marine robotics

Chair: Ann Overmeire, The Blue Cluster (BE)

  • 2.1 – “S-Safe project” – Koen Geirnaert - Dot.Ocean (BE)

  • 2.2 – "SMART infrastructure" - Tiago Morais  - INEGI (PT)

  • 2.3 – "Geotechnical data for offshore foundations – Supersized4.0 "– Bruno Stuyts - University Ghent (BE).


Session 3 - Data analysis, data mining and decision support tools

Chair: pIEt Haerens HAEDES BV

  • 3.1 –“Sensorization” of ports, waterbodies, pollution and infrastructure” – Thomas Vanhoestenberghe - FLUVES (BE)

  • 3.2 - "SMART Fishing – Vistools Geofish!" – Lancelot Blondeel - Visserij ILVO (BE)

  • 3.3 - "Coast.SENSE and its applications to Cascais" - Ana Oliveira - CoLAB +ATLANTIC (PT)

  • 3.4 - "Blue Economy and Innovation" - Ricardo Marvão - Beta-i (PT)


Session 4 – Education, communication and social engagement

Chair: Jan Seys, VLIZ (BE)

  • 4.1 – Ocean Public Outreach and awareness – Sara Granchinho - EurOcean (EU)

  • 4.2 – EU4Ocean Coalition for Ocean Literacy - Connecting Organisations, Projects & People (tbc)

  • 4.3 – UPSkill – Preparing skills for industry 4.0 - Katrien Criel - POM West Vlaanderen (BE)


Closing session

Chair: Rui Faria da Cunha, President of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce

  • Wrap-up and feedback - Pierre Poncelet, Secretary-General of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce

  • Outlook to economic mission to Viana do Castelo


Conference Documents


Data is the new gold. This 'raw material' will be valuable for the blue economy. Big data is becoming a key factor to optimize complex activities at the sea, support decisions to reduce operations in harsh conditions and increase safety, contributing to the sustainability and profitability of the blue economy. Technological developments such as big data, cloud computing, machine learning and AI will radically change the world. They form the foundation of Industry 4.0. Examples are applications of Internet of Things (IoT), where sensors generate data from devices and transmit it to a computer, but also automation and remote operating vehicles as well as high-performance sensors. These tools and models will assist in assessing the offshore situation, planning operation and maintenance in the future. The intelligent network that is created allows engineers and technicians to monitor, adjust and (preventively) optimize operations. Via smart networks, environmental, biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring can also be used to provide input for smart design and operations. To come to such smart infrastructure still there is still a way to go. Both Portugal and Belgium are developing smart technology and can combine forces to take a next step in Its development.

Industry 4.0 is calling. It will need the knowledge of different disciplines coupled with multi-sensoring schemes that can support sustainable blue economy activities. It will be associated with online servers and/or workstations with the most appropriate software to manage and control offshore systems and activities. In this way contributing for safer operations, more sustainable use of our oceans and seas and cost reduction. Industry 4.0 can be stretched to management strategies that embrace the data gathering, exchange between joined nodes, to have real-time cloud computing practices and management. It is both the knowledge of the parts and wisdom of the whole that we will need to develop this new economy.

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