Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe's economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. In the past five years, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU. The European Commission considers SMEs and entrepreneurship as key to ensuring economic growth, innovation, job creation, and social integration in the EU. (See here)

The H2020 BlueBRIDGE project shares the commitment and for this reason it launched its Competitive Call for SMEs designed to support small and medium enterprises in improving their data management practices thus paving the way for enhanced data products and services.

The 4 winners of the call AquaBioTech Group, Flyby, Sinay and StatnMap were selected based on strict criteria, prioritizing the business growth potential for the blue sector all 4 winning companies belong to.  

The BlueBRIDGE Competitive Call for SMEs

The objective of the call is to empower 4 European SMEs working on collaborative data management for the fisheries, marine, environmental & ecological domains or in the aquaculture sector by providing them access to the BlueBRIDGE resources (datasets, services and technologies and data analytics). The support offered by BlueBRIDGE will help SMEs to solve data management issues, to improve their existing services or technologies and to enhance their portfolio through the development of new services.

As the Call for SMEs was not foreseen in the original budget of the BlueBRIDGE project, no financial support has been offered through the call. This makes the results of the Call even more relevant.

The selection process

In June 2017, the BlueBRIDGE evaluation committee, composed by experts in computer science and in data management applied to ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture, reviewed the applications received and selected the 5 winning companies.

The evaluation was  based on 4 main criteria focusing on the one hand on the specific problem the SMEs are facing, how the use of BlueBRIDGE resources impacts the growth/innovation/business/service of the companies, the long-term exploitation potential and sustainability while promoting Open Access to the data and results generated on the other hand.

The winning companies of the BlueBRIDGE Competitive Call for SMEs

The companies selected are very diverse in terms of business areas and they represent a perfect sample of the variety of applications that BlueBRIDGE can support. Meet the companies that have started collaboration with BlueBRIDGE as of July 2017:

  • AquaBioTech Group, an international research and development, engineering, technology provider and consulting company located in Malta. The AquaBioTech Group undertakes a variety of aquaculture, fisheries, marine surveying, aquarium and aquatic environmental projects through its regional offices and partners throughout the world. The vast majority of the company’s work is related to the marine or aquatic environment, encompassing aquaculture developments, market research / intelligence, through to project feasibility assessments, finance acquisition, project management, technology sourcing and technical support and training. With the data and the models made available by BlueBRIDGE, AquaBioTech wants to study the nutrition dispersion and retention in the environment surrounding a local fish farm. The results of the collaboration with BlueBRIDGE will be also analysed in the context of the TAPAS - Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability - H2020 project, in which the SME is involved, to widening the scope of the collaboration.
  • Flyby, an independent Italian company, specialized in the development of Decision Support Systems exploiting edge technologies in the field of Remote Sensing, Signal Processing and Big Data Analytics. The company has been founded in 2001 with the aim to develop innovative solutions exploiting data analytics. Flyby operates in five different business sectors (Defence, Space, Health, Maritime & Fishing, Energy). Currently, Flyby is developing a new commercial solution to monitor and provide advice on the sustainability of fish resources: the work going on in BlueBRIDGE related to fisheries stock assessment could enhance the solution under development.
  • Sinay, a French Environmental Consulting company specialised in underwater acoustics, maritime surveillance and fishery science. Founded in 2008, the company provides a wide range of services such as environmental impact and risk studies related to human activities in the oceans, marine wildlife population surveys and fish stock assessments. Sinay aims to exploit the BlueBRIDGE resources to study the impact of man-made underwater noise on different key marine species in the Mediterranean area. Sinay is already working on these kind of assessments, therefore BlueBRIDGE will be useful to compare the results of the different models used and to assess an alternative solution to explore eventual cost-efficiency benefits.
  • StatnMap, a French micro-enterprise providing tutorials and expertise in statistics, modelling, spatial data analyses and mapping for beginners or advanced users from universities, research laboratories and companies. The main field of expertise is marine and aquatic ecology. By exploiting the data, the models and the computational resources made available by BlueBRIDGE, StatnMap aims to build species distribution models in a more efficient way and enhance its offering.

What’s next?

As a first step in the collaboration, BlueBRIDGE set up 2 Virtual Research Environments - VREs, web-based applications fully equipped with the necessary resources, allowing AquaBioTech and StatnMap to start using the BlueBRIDGE services already in the summer period. The remaining three VREs are planned to be set up in September 2017 as further requirements analysis is performed over the upcoming months.