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European Research for MEditerranean Seafood

Final Report Summary - ERMES (European Research for MEditerranean Seafood)

Fishing, aquaculture and the seafood industry in the Mediterranean region are mainly based on small traditional companies which have limited resources for innovation. These small companies tend to remain static and may experience problems in coping with increasing environmental and regulatory constraints. Their failure to grow and prosper represents a serious threat to Mediterranean seafood production. The rationale of the 'European research for Mediterranean seafood' (ERMES) project was to facilitate accesses to research and development activities and new technologies for SME's in the Mediterranean region.

The ERMES project provided scientific and technological advice to companies based on the analysis of their innovation needs, as well as technical assistance in interfacing the Framework Programme. Processing companies indicated a need for support to achieve progress in the following areas: food safety, new processing technologies, new food development, preservation techniques, packaging, control of raw materials, marketing techniques and logistics and traceability. Aquaculture companies identified a lack of access to new knowledge in the following areas: environmental management, animal nutrition and feed, parameters influencing quality of fish meat production technologies, safety monitoring, genetic improvement, and production cycle management.

Scientific advice was provided through a series of workshops, one-to-one sessions and follow-up providing links to the most appropriate research organisations to address the specific needs of companies. The primary objectives of the ERMES project were to provide Mediterranean SME's with information on funding and research opportunities in the Sixth Framework Programme specific targeted information and guidance on R&D and innovation strategies through 11 ad hoc workshops.

Key points:

- to provide specific targeted information and guidance to SMEs of the seafood sector;
- to establish a 'cooperation practice' for seafood sector companies to access information, and develop relationships with research and technological innovation partners;
- to identify approximately 70-80 organisations that have a relevant potential either in research or technological innovation and to provide support through more advanced scientific services;
- to provide a mapping of research resources for the various seafood production sectors in the Mediterranean;
- to increase cooperation and awareness of two non EU countries (Turkey and Tunisia) on with the EU and to align their innovation and research needs;
- to support companies in research and technology transfer and to facilitate contacts and cooperation between innovative companies of the seafood production chain and scientific excellence in Europe in the field of food quality and safety.

Network links:

- established relationships between the most innovative companies in the Mediterranean and the research institutions in the respective countries;
- 103 actions among Mediterranean seafood companies, SMEs and Research organisations;
- 63 organisations bridged to R&D and technology transfer initiatives of which 50 % have become concrete national or EU proposals;
- 27 Specific Support Actions (SSAs) in terms of technical orientations and recommendations;
- 12 project workshops, with a total of 541 participants which included 76 one-to-one meetings.

In its second year, ERMES worked in synergy with other ongoing project Eurolatsea addressing Latin America and a joint workshop was organised by the two projects.

The mapping results of ERMES and Eurolatsea have been merged in an online mapping tool for seafood research resources which currently available and which can represent a good basis for further exploitation by other initiatives.

Identification of research and technology needs:

- supplied relevant tools to Mediterranean seafood SMEs to compete globally by enabling them to access the latest R&D in the sector;
- helped SMEs to define and structure their research needs;
- developed a mapping tool to allow SMEs to identify potential relevant R&D institutions;
- assisted SMEs in accessing scientific information that will keep them competitive and ensure health and safety regulations and environmental requirements are complied with.

Synergies between ERMES and Eurolatsea

The Eurolatsea project, http://www.eurolatseaproject.eu stems from the experience of ERMES in the Mediterranean region to answer a need for a support action targeting Latin America in the same field. Some partners are shared in the two consortia and the year and a half of overlap enabled a high degree of synergy and shared experience in the field. In particular both projects, each in its target region, performed a study of seafood related research centres and laboratories representing a valuable source of information for the industries and SME's of the sector developing innovation plans, under the form of research projects or technology transfer. The results of both studies have been consolidated in a web resource that is open for further exploitation by other sector initiatives. The mapping tool can be found through the project's websites or directly via http://www.seafoodresearch.eu/.

In the long term, ERMES will positively impact the socio-economic potential of SMEs in the Mediterranean region by helping SMEs to define and structure their research needs. This communication will contribute to the quality and safety of Mediterranean seafood, in EU countries and beyond. It will promote a long-term dialogue between companies in the seafood production chain and scientific resources that can help them to prosper.

ERMES provided the platform for 63 seafood manufacturing / production companies to bridge appropriate research development and technology transfer initiatives. Half of these have been further developed into national or EU proposals in areas of novel preservation techniques, traceability in the logistics chain and new quality sensors.

The ERMES-Eurolatsea mapping tool for seafood research organisations represents an expandable online database for research resources related to the seafood sector. Its graphical interface allows browsing resources by clicking on a map or by using different search criteria. The way this tool is structured, it allows for more results to be integrated, and the scope could also be further enlarged to include other organisations from not too distant research fields, like for example bio and food technologies.

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