UNITED wins Blue Innovation Swell Award 2022



Project partners of the Belgian demonstration project within UNITED (Image: UNITED)
UNITED wins Blue Innovation Swell Award 2022
post by
Kelle Moreau

On Thursday 15 December, the ceremonial presentation of the Blue Innovation Awards 2022 took place at the Port House in Antwerp. The Belgian Pilot of the UNITED project won the Blue Innovation Swell Award. Within this demonstration project, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is working with scientific and commercial partners to optimise the combination of offshore wind, aquaculture and recovery of flat oysters and seaweed cultivation.

Blue Innovation Awards

The Blue Innovation Awards are an initiative of the Blauwe Cluster to highlight innovative projects, products and services in the blue economy. Four categories are awarded: the Blue Innovation Wave for SMEs, the Corporate Blue Innovation Wave for large companies, the Blue Innovation Swell for collaborative initiatives and the Blue Innovation Captain for government initiatives. A public prize will also be awarded.

This was already the third edition of the Blue Innovation Awards in 2022. All entries, involving over 50 organisations in total, were judged on five criteria: innovative character; link with economic activities in, on and by the sea; market potential; international ambitions and appeal; and link with the United Nations' sustainable development goals. Within each category, two nominees were eventually retained.


The EU Horizon2020 project UNITED (Multi-Use offshore platforms demoNstrators for boostIng cost-effecTive and Eco-friendly production in sustainable marine activities) provides evidence of the economic as well as environmental viability of multiple use of offshore space through the development of five demonstration projects in different European sea areas.

The Belgian demonstration project revolves around the combination of offshore wind energy, cultivation of seaweed (Saccharina latissima) and European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis), and restoration of flat oyster reefs. It is a collaboration between several research groups from Ghent University, Jan De Nul, Brevisco, Colruyt, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and Parkwind. The RBINS research group MARECO is mainly focusing on the restoration of flat oyster reefs, and is also responsible for developing a framework for assessing the added value of multiple marine use, which will be applied in the five pilot projects.

"The election of the Belgian UNITED-pilot as laureate of the Blue Innovation Swell Award 2022 shows that the blue economy is very much alive, and that nature development is also becoming an increasingly entrenched condition within economic activities." says MARECO researcher Annaïk Van Gerven proudly.


More information about the other Blue Innovation Awards 2022 can be found on the Blauwe Cluster website.

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