Revolutionary maritime funding to increase European sustainability

New European maritime funding could revolutionise the sector, increasing global sustainability and ocean-based food security.

As Horizon 2020 draws to an end, the European Union (EU) aims to increase funding in sustainable infrastructure and the digitisation of Europe. The maritime sector is set to receive a large portion of this funding due to the plethora of sustainable opportunities it offers. As part of this funding revolution, the Union will be introducing NextGenerationEU, a new recovery instrument, worth €750bn, is embedded within a powerful, modern, and revamped long-term EU budget.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “30% of NextGenerationEU and our Multiannual Financial Framework will be spent on climate-related projects. If we get it right, I believe NextGenerationEU can be one of the largest stimulus for investment and reforms anywhere in the world – investing in roll-out of 5G, in grid infrastructure, in AI and industrial digitisation, in renewables, sustainable transport, energy-efficient buildings, you name it. This is how we fight climate change and modernise! This stimulus will also support much needed structural reforms to make us more resilient.”

What maritime projects are the EU looking to fund?

The Blue Growth call is part of Horizon 2020’s food security, sustainable agriculture, maritime and inland water research, as well as the EU’s bioeconomy societal challenge. The EU have expressed keen interest in funding projects that offer innovation in:

  • Minimising vessel emissions
  • Marine robotics
  • The digital transformation of the maritime sector
  • Sustainable ocean practices
  • Coastal and ocean-based food sources
  • Renewable energy
  • Reducing ocean plastics
  • Safety at sea
  • Marine observation
  • Disaster response

EU leaders have agreed on a record-high €1.82 trillion long-term budget including a temporary recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, based on the Commission proposal of 27 May 2020. The European Parliament have suggested a €6.14bn investment in the aquaculture sector for the 2021-2027 period.

maritime funding
© iStock/georgeclerk

What funding is available to maritime projects?

The EU host a variety of funding instruments for maritime project. This funding is offered in a variety of ways, such as prizes, funding calls, and supportive research opportunities, such as:

  • EU Green Deal – Call Areas 1 to 11: the EU will fund pilot applications, demonstration projects, and innovative products that progress innovation for the better governance of the green and digital transition. The overall budget of the EU Green Deal is €1tr. This funding closes January 2021.
  • The Innovation Fund: As one on the largest funding opportunities, the Innovation Fund focuses on innovative low-carbon technologies, carbon capture, renewable energy, and energy storage. The Innovation Fund has a total budget of €10bn and will close by 2030.
  • EIC Pathfinder Pilot: The European Innovation Council (EIC) fund a myriad of projects that aim to increase innovation and sustainability in Europe. By 07 October 2020, the EIC will have mobilised €17.5m to SMEs that follow their guidelines.
  • BBI-2020-SO1-F3 – Produce food ingredients with high nutritional value from aquatic sources: Through this funding, the EU hopes to sustainably scale up the conversion of new and sustainable aquatic and marine sources for human food and contribute to food and nutrition security. The budget for BBI-2020-SO1-F3 is €16m. The deadline for BBI-2020-SO1-F3 is 03 September 2020.
  • Horizon 2020’s Fast Track to Innovation (FTI): proposals must relate to any field of H2020 under the specific objective ‘Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies’ and/or to any of the specific objectives under the priority ‘Societal challenge’. FTI has a budget of €3m and will close by 27 October 2020.
  • RESponsible Island – Prize for a renewable geographic energy island: this prize will reward integrated local renewables production in a decentralised electricity grid. For this prize, the EU focusses on decarbonising heating, cooling, and transport. The financial reward for this prize include, €0.5m for the 1st place, €0.25m for the 2nd place, €0.1m for the 3rd The deadline for this prize is 29 September 2020.

In addition to these calls, the EU mobilises funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The EMFF helps fishermen transition to sustainable fishing by financing projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts.

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