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October 27, 2017

The term “Blue Economy” was first used by Gunter Pauli to describe his business model to shift society from scarcity to abundance “with what is locally available“, but it has surged into common usage all over the world as a goal of policy-making and investment, and it is understood as the use of the sea and its resources for sustainable economic development.

If the Ocean were a country, it would be the world’s 7th largest economy

European Commission

The Ocean has long been one of the drivers of world’s economy. However, it is not until recently that the eyes are on the great untapped potential for innovation and growth that the marine and maritime sector can bring to the economy. Bernhard Friess, head of the Maritime Policy and Blue Economy Directorate of the EU, assures that the seas can certainly be a great source of jobs and prosperity – but only if they are healthy, safe and sustainably managed. And that’s what it is all about!

So now what?


Well, now that we understand that we are an integral part of the marine ecosystem, and that we must plan and implement our economic activities with care, balancing the desire to improve human living standards and wellbeing with the imperative to sustain ecosystem health, now it is the time to create new synergiesbetween public authorities, local communities, researchers and private investors, and to harvest the full potential of the Blue Economy in a smart, sustainable and inclusive way.

The European Commission, through the Blue Growth strategy, has the priority to develop in particular five sectors that considers have high potential in Europe:



Aquaculture is the most rapidly expanding food industry in the world, with an average increasing rate of 8% per year. Currently, more than 50% of the seafood we consume comes from farmed species, and it is expected to keep increasing as a result of declining wild fisheries stocks worldwide.

The sector is mainly composed of SMEs or micro-enterprises in coastal and rural areas and the Commission intends to boost aquaculture through the Common Fisheries Policy reform. In 2013, it published Strategic Guidelines presenting common priorities and general objectives at EU level.

Coastal tourism


Europe is a maritime continent with a coastline stretching from the Arctic to the Mediterranean and from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. This makes coastal and maritime tourism the largest maritime activity in Europeemploying over 3.2 million people, generating a total of € 183 billion in gross value added and representing over one third of the maritime economy.

As part of EU’s Blue Growth strategy, the Commission has identified 14 actions which can help the sector grow sustainably and provide added impetus to Europe’s coastal regions. For example, it is proposed to develop an online guide to the main funding opportunities available for the sector (particularly SMEs) and to promote strategies on waste prevention, management and marine litter to support sustainable coastal and maritime tourism.

Marine Biotechnology


Marine Biotechnology, or Blue Biotechnology, is concerned with the exploration and exploitation of the sea biodiversity that could enable us to develop new products of great value. Through new gene sequencing technologies, marine organisms other than fish and shellfish have the potential to provide inputs to the blue economy. A successful example are anti-viral drugs coming from Caribbean sponges.

The EC created a strategic approach to research and innovation to provide the scientific and technological bases for substantiating the strategic decisions that emerging industrial sectors need.

According to the Commission, in the very short term, the sector is expected to emerge as a niche market focused on high-value products for the health, cosmetic and industrial biomaterials sectors. By 2020, it could grow as a medium-sized market, an in a third stage, around 15 years from now, it could be subject to technological breakthroughs, and become a provider of mass-market products, together with a range of high added value specialised products.

Blue Energy

Blue energy, marine energy or ocean energy technologies are currently being developed to exploit the potential of tides and waves as well as differences in temperature and salinity besides the more studied offshore wind farms.

According to the Commission, these 5 offshore renewable energies have the potential to enhance the efficiency of harvesting the European energy resource. However, commercial operation of blue energy technologies still needs investments in grid connections and transmission capacity. Furthermore, efforts to reinforce research and development in the field of ocean energy are needed in order to reduce costs, lengthen the operating life of equipment and streamline logistics in the technologies.

The European Commission has developed a two-step action plan to support this emerging sector. In the first phase (2014 – 2016), a secretariat and ocean energy forum have been set up. For the period 2017-2020, the action will be focused on developing the Ocean Energy Strategic Roadmap.

Deep Seabed Mining


A lot of polemic goes around this sector. Today commercial scale seabed mining operations are limited to shallow water, but given the discovery of most promising deposits of the so-called “nodules” – small mineral-rich rocks – from the seabed, the game is changing. Even though the idea of exploiting the gold, copper, manganese, cobalt and other metals of the ocean floor has been considered for decades, it only recently became feasible with high commodity prices and new technology.

Nodules in the Pacific Ocean have more Mn, Ni, Mo and Co than the entire global terrestrial reserve base for those metals.

[Hein et al., 2012]

The polemic is two-fold:


  • Firstly, there is limited knowledge of the unique ecosystems living there and therefore, there is a growing concern of decisions being made before science keeps up with decision making, leading to disastrous long-term consequences for marine life.
  • Secondly, most of the marine deposits of minerals prized by world markets are found beyond the EEZs, on the seabeds of the High Seas. In theory, this means that no one has sovereignty over the resources found there, being the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA) the overseeing body. ISA is awarding 15-year-licenses for exploiting the nodules under the commitment of a supposedly equitable distribution of the benefits that derive from the mineral resources among the 167 countries that have signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, developing countries that do not count with the technology to extract such resources are concerned about a real equitable distribution of the profits.

The European Commission is engaged in a variety of studies and projects aimed at shedding light on the benefits, drawbacks and knowledge gaps associated with this type of mining. A global annual turnover of marine mineral mining can be expected to grow from virtually nothing to €5 billion in the next 10 years and up to €10 billion by 2030.

The infographic created by 911Metallurgist and NeoMamStudios analyses in a very illustrative way if deep seabed mining worth the risk. You can find the full version here.



Now that you know what is Sustainable Blue Economy about, you can follow what will be discussed at Our Ocean Conference as it will be one of the 6 areas of action to be addressed. The EC will be looking for high-level commitments from the industry, national and local administrations, research institutions and civil society to delivering and transforming the challenges ahead into an opportunity for cooperation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The other 5 areas to be discussed next month among world leaders include Marine Protected Areas, Climate Change, Sustainable Fisheries, Marine Pollution and Maritime Security.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogpost on Our Ocean Conference as we will be participating in the side events!

Follow through the hashtag #OurOcean all the activities and attendants including heads of state and government; foreign, economy, environment and fisheries ministers; and other established and up-and-coming ocean leaders in government, business, finance, science and civil society, as well as young and cutting-edge innovators and entrepreneurs and global leaders in ocean conservation!

By Mariana Mata Lara



October 26, 2017

In Europe, there is a series of underutilized land. Contaminated, marginal, fallow lands etc. are fragmented areas quite common throughout the continent, as a result of improper forestry management, excessive mining activities, environmental pollution, or simple mismanagement of arable lands.

Although these abandoned areas are not suitable for conventional, agricultural, or forestry activities, there are several innovative and advanced bioenergy supply/value chains which can handle such underutilized lands in a sustainable way.

The main objective of the FORBIO project is to set examples and provide guidelines to European farmers, foresters, remediation companies and technology providers in order to get them involved and motivated in the development of innovative bioenergy value chains on underutilised and marginal lands.

Funded under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme of the EU, this three-year project aims to demonstrate the viability of non-food bioenergy feedstock production in the Member States, neither interfering with the production of food or feed, nor with land, currently used for recreational and conservational purposes. FORBIO will develop a methodology to assess bioenergy production potential on available underutilised lands in Europe at national and local levels.

The project is in its half-time: the agronomic and techno-economic feasibility studies were prepared for GermanyItaly and Ukraine. The report on sustainability assessment of the selected advanced bioenergy value chains in the case study sites are expected by the middle of 2018, along with the roadmap for the removal of the main economic and non-economic barriers that hinder the application of advanced bio-energy practices on underutilized lands.

Based on the outcome of the sustainability assessment report and the roadmap, the capacity building activities of FORBIO will be initiated in 2018. Info days, training events and webinars will be organised by project partners, where representative of biomass supply chain providers, land-owners, farmers, foresters, mine-operators and remediation technology companies will be invited. Selected experts will be presenting hands-on project results to local stakeholders.

The Hungarian FORBIO event will be organised in February 2018 by the project’s co-coordinator Geonardo. More details about the event will be published in the coming months.

written by Péter Gyuris


October 25, 2017

Currently EMG group is actively involved in coordination and implementation of more than a dozen of EU projects. Digitalization and globalization have positively changed the project implementation and management processes facilitating access to information and enriching the target audience with innovative learning instruments. Therefore, both Geonardo and Europa Media are responsible for the development of a number of online tools, which nowadays are a must to maximize project’s impact and reach wider audience.

Did you know that we a have a very creative IT team who realizes our most challenging ideas on various online platforms? This blog post provides an overview of some of the unique IT solutions (funding databases, interactive maps, online calculators, e-learning courses, etc.) developed by EMG’s IT department for many successful FP7 and H2020 projects.

For our LinkTADs project we developed a Find Funding tool – a database of various grants, scholarships, fellowships and other funding opportunities targeting international researchers in the EU and China working in the field of animal health.

Another Funding database was developed for Bilat USA 4.0 projectit covers funding programmes between the EU and the USA aimed to facilitate cooperation between researchers and companies.

For two of our projects we have developed online calculators. Based on custom entry parameters, the inbuilt Plascarb engine provides a quick estimate about the feasibility of the PlasCarb process in the form of a personalised output document.

The Environmental assessment tool for Waste2Go can be used by any interested user and gives an estimation of the environmental impacts (in CO2-eq.) for transformation strategies of municipal solid waste (MSW) into chemical building blocks.

One of the latest mapping instruments developed by EM is the MY-WAY  Map – a comprehensive overview of the best potential partners for start-ups covering all relevant fields, from technical management, legal services, investors to crowd funding, all sorted by countries and cities.

At the same time, it is not surprising that the most popular tool used in our projects is the e-learning system.We have developed dozens of e-learning courses, applying various approaches to context visualization and deployment. For example, for GEOCOM project we used presentations and narrations available via easy access online for anyone interested in geothermal energy.

For Health2Market we transformed our partners’ presentations on entrepreneurship and business models for health research into e-learning chapters available for registered users.

For INNO-4-AGRIFOOD project we transformed the materials sent by partners as online presentations on knowledge and skills to support online collaboration in agri-food sector into e-learning modules with graphical presentations, exercise and quizzes and case studies to be added later.

My personal favorites are the tools developed by our e-learning guru for the Start2Act project. Upcoming Start2Act e-learning will be one of a kind, as we applied our famous hands-on approach and took photos in our office in order to demonstrate potential energy efficient solutions. Here is a sneak peek (the e-learning is under development; therefore, the screenshots are confidential 😉

Before the launch of the Start2Act e-learning you can also play our energy saving game, which already proved to be very popular.

If you are interested in any of the topics mentioned above, don’t forget to register on respective project websites.

Which tool did you like the most? Let us know!

By: Liliya Levandovska


October 20, 2017

Between 9 and 24 July 2017 I travelled to Budapest to Europa Media offices thanks to the NCURA/EARMA Fellowship Program for an exchange experience from Chapman University (California). The NCURA/EARMA Fellowship program has two objectives:  the training of research administrators and enhancing global research collaboration. My experience in Budapest served to further these goals.

During the first week of the fellowship I attended Europa Media Group’s (EMG) Funding Academy. EMG is a unique company, providing administrative and management services for EU funded projects, implementing several projects utilizing in-house researchers and providing expert advice to clients around the EU. Reflecting EMG’s broad reach and experience, attendees were from various countries within the European Union. For example, I met individuals from England, Norway, Finland, the Czech Republic and Belgium. The training course combined lectures and discussions with hands-on practice workshops. The first two days of the training focused on building partnerships and writing a competitive proposal. The second two days focused on the financial management and EU audit concerns. Participants were able to get to know each other better through evening activities such as a boat trip on the Danube and dinner at a famous Hungarian restaurant. Each attendee received a participant list with a list of participant names, organization and email addresses which was a very useful starting point for networking with other attendees.

During the second week of the fellowship I was focused on giving insights on how the US funding schemes work and meeting potential collaborators. I presented information about U.S. funding sources to the EMG staff. In slides and via email, I provided links to online tools and resources to help potential European partners identify federal programs that allow foreign applicants and partners.  Approximately 12 individuals attended the 1.5 hour presentation, which was followed by a questions and answers session.

For week two, Krisztina arranged in person and Skype meetings with key players in the Hungarian R&I scene or long-time collaborators of EMG group from Bar-Ilan University (Israel), Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd., Hungarian Science Academy and Singularity University. During these meetings, we discussed research interests and grant experiences with both EU and US funding sources, the NCURA/EARMA connection and enhancing international collaboration. Through these meetings, I collected background materials and additional contacts that will be shared with researchers not only at Chapman University, but at other NCURA member institutions as well.

This fellowship experience taught me that research administrators in the EU and the US have a lot in common. As we worked through workshop activities, training participants shared their experiences with faculty, internal offices (such as legal affairs, purchasing, etc.) and with auditors. Although accounting rules vary and program priorities differ, the principles of grant stewardship seem constant. Challenges of planning, documentation, reliability and communication between multiple partners define research administration on both sides of the ocean. Finding collaborators with shared interest, enthusiasm, and the ability to get the job done is crucial to our success, especially when we endeavour to partner at great distances.

There were a few differences noted in proposal writing and development and implementation. The H2020 program refers to “participants” where U.S. sources would use the phrase “partnering” or “collaborating” organizations. Budgeting for H2020 programs requires the calculation of average hourly rates (including benefits) for groups of similarly paid individuals. Post-award financial reports use actual hourly rates, but for partial years do not allow recovery of incremental salary increases. Recipients of H2020 usually report actual hours worked on the project. However, those individuals who are contribute 100% effort on a H2020 project sign a certification of effort instead. The topic of time budgeting and effort reporting came up in several conversations. EMG staff were interested in how faculty effort is reported in the U.S., since faculty time is not tracked on an hourly basis. Where and how fringe benefits are included in the budget differs slightly as well, and could be a source of confusion for foreign applicants to U.S. agencies.

All in all, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to NCURA, EARMA, Europa Media Group, Krisztina Tóth, and Chapman University for the opportunity to participate in this fellowship. I look forward to sharing with the NCURA community and Chapman faculty and staff all that I learned and experienced in Budapest. The connections will serve to increase partnerships and collaborations in many fields. Researchers address global issues, and to do so, they must reach beyond borders.

Dawn Underwood, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice President for Research
Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866


October 13, 2017

Last month there was a worldwide challenge called PLASTIC FREE JULY. Did you hear about it? Do you know why it mattered? You probably wonder what all the fuzz around plastic is about. Is it true all what they say? Does it really pollute that bad? In this blogpost we’ll address some of the questions you might be having around plastic!




Image result for Free Plastic JulyIt’s a campaign that started in 2011 for challenging people to refuse single-use plastic during July. By asking you to commit to a month of trying to avoid disposables, Plastic Free July attempts to raise awareness on the amount of plastic we consume in our lives and make you think about plastic pollution.

Wouldn’t it be too difficult?

It depends on where you live. But you can start by trying to avoid the big four: grocery bags, plastic straws, to-go coffee cups and plastic water bottles. Of course, you can go all in and avoid all disposables too!




We have developed a “disposable” lifestyle where estimates are that a plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes and around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away. In fact, most of the plastic that we first started using in the last century is still in our environment today and we have increased plastic production twenty-fold over the past 50 years!

But I recycle!

Even if you mindfully place your plastic in a recycling bin, it’s highly likely that it won’t get turned into another product. Why? Because since there is still no profitable market in which to sell recycled plastic, it’s not cost-effective for companies in developed countries to process it.




YES! The 2017 United Nations Clean Seas Campaign estimated that there are 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean today—500 times more than the number of stars in our galaxy! And according to the 2016 World Economic Forum report on circular economy, if calculated by weight, only in three decades there will be more plastic in the Ocean than fish!


Image: Plastic Oceans


I heard about plastic-eating-microbes and a kid that created a filtration system!

Well yes, but…

The studies indicating that plastics may be degraded by microbes were achieved in lab conditions where it is more difficult to replicate real life. In fact, some initiatives to reduce plastic like 5 Gyres consider that the impact of tiny microbes on the massive problem of plastic pollution is negligible.

As for filtration systems, those projects typically do not reflect an adequate understanding of ocean dynamics and marine ecology, neither of the harsh conditions and vast expansion of the world’s seas. Removal of floating plastic debris from the open ocean by scooping out plastic can cause substantial impacts on marine ecosystems. Furthermore, these filtration systems wouldn’t be able to capture microplastics.

Image result for Free Plastic July

What are microplastics? Is it true I use them every day?

All the plastics that are less than five millimeters in length are called microplastics. The most common form of microplastics are the microbeds, tiny pieces of plastic polyethylene added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes.

Their miniscule size means that marine animals often mistake them for fish eggs, a natural part of their diets. The plastic carry toxins, contaminating the fish and passing along harmful chemicals to humans. So if you partake in the occasional fish taco, it’s possible for these microbeads to get inside our bodies.






There are many organizations, ideas and initiatives trying to address the issue from different trenches. But we still need more people to jump onboard!

PARLEY – the space where creators, thinkers, and leaders come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate on projects that can end their destruction:

PARLEY + Adidas: Collaboration to transform marine plastic pollution into high performance sportswear. #AdidasParley

PARLEY + Corona: Alliance in the movement to end marine plastic pollution. Their aim is to protect 100 islands by 2020, starting in six key regions – Mexico, Maldives, Australia, Chile, Italy, and Dominican Republic.

  • 5 GYRES work with people, politicians and corporations to stop emissions at the source.

  • PLASTIC OCEANS FOUNDATION engages people of all ages, in all social situations, to understand the danger of continuing to perceive plastic to be disposable.

  • PRECIOUS PLASTIC guides people in every corner of the world to start their own local plastic recycling workshop.

  • CLEAN SEAS is a UN Environment initiative with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter.

  • THE ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

  • WORLD AQUARIUMS AGAINST MARINE LITTER. The European Commission is calling all aquariums to join a global awareness raising action about marine litter and to showcase this growing problem by engaging thousands of people and presenting practical solutions.




  • You can go #plasticfree today by refusing the top five sources of single use plastic: plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic to-go containers, plastic takeaway cups, and plastic straws.

  • Get informed and spread the word! Don’t miss the film A Plastic Ocean, an adventure documentary that brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. You can find it on Netflix!

  • See what #CleanSeas actions others around the world are taking and join in or click here to start your own!

  • Take the pledge of PARLEY A.I.R STRATEGY:









“It took centuries to create the mess. No magic bullet will solve it overnight. It will take time, creativity, and hard work.”

John Warner, Founder of Green Chemistry

“There is no away – because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible. When you cast it into the ocean, it does not go away.”

Sir David Attenborough

“We are at war with the oceans. And if we win, we lose it all. Because every second breath we take, is created by the sea. The environmental issues we are facing, are caused by faulty economic systems. It is easy to blame big corporations, but the creative industries should truly own the problems. We have the tools to change it all. And we can do it really fast if we want.”

Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans.


Captain Paul Watson (Sea Shepherd)

By Mariana Mata Lara

European Funding Academy: full immersion into the Horizon 2020 world

June 22, 2017

From 13 to 16 June 2017, I had the pleasure to attend a unique event in its genre: the European Funding Academy organised yearly by Europa Media. A tradition that has become a long-awaited event and well known by researchers, consultants, public administrators and project managers. Why is it unique? It brings together under the same roof all fundamental issues you will face while dealing with EU projects from proposal development, building a consortium, drafting a budget, reporting, writing deliverables, dealing with financial issues, closing a project to potentially being audited by the European Commission.

Participants dealing with timesheets and invoices during the Financial Reporting workshop

Still doesn’t sound unique? Add the exclusivity of meeting people from all over Europe. You could have attended an event on energy efficiency and could have networked with professionals, but at such events you would meet people working in the same field. The added value of this Funding Academy is that indeed you will meet professionals working on EU projects, but coming from different universities or companies, having totally different backgrounds and working on way different topics: from health care to energy efficiency or water management and marine research. It is indeed an effective way to increase your professional network, meet future partners, get ideas for new collaborations and projects or simply get inspired by other people and their practices.

The first two days of the Academy were focused on proposal development. In the morning of the first day, we were given an overview of Horizon 2020 and the general landscape of EU research and innovation funding schemes and practical tips, examples and strategies on how to write a proposal.

The most exciting part was of course the workshop. At first, we were split into two groups of participants. The next challenge was to read a real H2020 Work Programme topic and come up with a draft of a proposal concept, objectives and potential partners by the end of the day with the help of our trainers Valentina and Ömer.

So how did we proceed? We analysed the call ourselves and had to outline the work packages by organising our work as if we were coordinating a real proposal. It was a very productive afternoon, but also very mind challenging. In the evening, as part of social programme organized by Europa Media, we went on a relaxing boat trip on the Danube to admire the city lights.

Participants during the boat trip on the Danube at sunset

Of course, a proposal concept is not enough: you need an accurate and solid work plan. This is what we did during the workshop on the second day: we established specific tasks, their timeline and the distribution of efforts between partners based on the project idea we created the previous day.

The third and the fourth day were focused on reporting and financial management of a Horizon 2020 project. It started with Krisztina explaining how to handle the technical management and periodic and final reporting. After Gabor gave a detailed understanding of the Horizon 2020 financial rules, we had to apply our fresh knowledge and prepare a financial statement for a simulated Horizon 2020 project. The most surprising part was when we were given the solutions at the end of the workshop and discovered all the mistakes we made in analysing the invoices.

Participants networking and exchanging ideas during coffee break

All in all, the event was well-rounded and gave me a good overview of the life cycle of an EU project. Does all this sound appealing to you? You can join the next European Funding Academy in June 2018. But, if you don’t like waiting and want to learn more about Horizon 2020 funding scheme and project management, feel free to join us in one of our upcoming courses organised in different cities in Europe.

By: Cosmina Bisboaca

Learn how to save energy in the office with our new interactive game developed for the START2ACT project!

June 15, 2017

As a group of SMEs, we at Europa Media and Geonardo are well familiar with the need to apply energy saving practices in our offices. In fact, that is where we drew our inspiration for the START2ACT project. Now, as the project is in its second year, we are never short of creative ideas for engaging ways to deliver our main message – start to act and save energy at work!

Apart from our recently published Knowledge Base, listing all the tips, documents, solutions, tools and products on energy efficiency for SMEs and start-ups, we are working on the e-learning environment targeting office staff and company CEOs.

Before the launch of the e-learning course, Europa Media developed and released a teaser tool – the START2ACT Energy Saving Game.

Having tested the game last week at a networking event, Budapest Business Party, where it generated great interest from dozens of Hungarian business representatives, we are proudly presenting it to a wider audience on the START2ACT website.

Our project managers present the START2ACT project and the Energy Saving Game to visitors

The idea behind the game is to introduce, in a quick and interesting way, the practice of using several office devices that can act as the most efficient measures to cut your office utility bill this summer. We’ve made sure to create an engaging game. Therefore, players should pay special attention as we’ve included a number of tricks and potential traps. The added value of the game is the additional knowledge it conveys, as each correct/incorrect answer includes an explanation of the energy saving potential for each device chosen.

We hope you will enjoy playing our game and taking part in our upcoming e-learning courses (to be released in September).

If you work or run an SME or a start-up, be sure to join START2ACT in order to stay updated on our activities and platform news.

By: Liliya Levandovska