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COLUMBUS - Monitoring, Managing and Transferring Marine and Maritime Knowledge for Sustainable Blue Growth

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS - Monitoring, Managing and Transferring Marine and Maritime Knowledge for Sustainable Blue Growth)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

We are standing at the dawn of a century that will be largely affected by how we as a society are able to manage our oceans and their resources. Marine and Maritime Research has a critical role to play in developing our understanding of the seas and advance technology so that we can develop their economic potential in a sustainable manner. The COLUMBUS project intends to capitalise on the EC’s significant research by ensuring accessibility and uptake of research Knowledge Outputs by end-users (policy, industry, science and wider society). COLUMBUS will ensure measurable value creation from research investments contributing to sustainable Blue Growth within the timeframe of the project. Adopting proven methodologies and building on significant past work, COLUMBUS will first identify end-user needs and priorities. It will then set about identifying and collecting “Knowledge Outputs” from past and current EC projects. Rigorous analysis will take place to identify specific applications and end-users. Transfer will be achieved and measured through tailor-made knowledge transfer. All knowledge collected will be made accessible via the pre-existing EurOcean_KG Marine Knowledge Gate.

COLUMBUS Overarching Objective: Ensure that applicable knowledge generated through EC-funded science and technology research can be transferred effectively to advance the governance of the marine and maritime sectors while improving competitiveness of European companies and unlocking the potential of the oceans to create future jobs and economic growth in Europe (Blue Growth).

The specific COLUMBUS objectives are:
1. To obtain a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge gaps and priority knowledge requirements to fulfil Blue Growth potential in Europe as well as supporting the implementation of MSFD and other relevant marine policies.
2. To unlock the potential of past and current knowledge from EC-funded research projects by using proven innovative methodologies to identify and collect “Knowledge Outputs”, including data.
3. To analyse Research “Knowledge Outputs” in order to identify key promising results with potential for application in order to create growth opportunities and social innovation.
4. To maintain and develop the existing “Marine Knowledge Gate” as a monitoring and access tool for Research Activity, containing all marine research projects and their respective Knowledge Outputs.
5. To carry out targeted and customised Knowledge Transfer activities that result in knowledge being taken up and applied by various users (industry, policy, scientific community and wider society).
6. Implement impact measurement processes to ensure that COLUMBUS has case studies demonstrating tangible impact.
7. Operate a network of Competence Nodes across Europe covering a wide scope of marine and maritime areas/sectors.
8. Enhance the visibility and impact of marine/maritime research in society
9. Engage and exchange with other related initiatives, including the JRC Marine Competence Centre and other FP7 and H2020 Initiatives, to ensure cooperation and sharing.
10. Examine research system change by working with member state funding agencies and academic networks to explore ways the research system could be optimised to encourage and reward effective Knowledge Transfer.
11. Ensure a COLUMBUS project legacy by ensuring that activities are sustainable beyond the funded duration of the project.
Key elements of the work performed since the beginning of the project and the main results achieved so far are as follows:
• Submitted 19 deliverables which have been approved
• Achieved all milestones within its ambitious scope, for the 18-month period
• Set up internal management processes developed including project management, internal communication systems (BASECAMP, DROPBOX), Risk Management and Quality and Evaluation of the project
• Employed and trained a nine-person strong team of Knowledge Transfer Fellows
• Refined and advanced a bespoke methodology, and associated training materials, for Knowledge Transfer specific to the COLUMBUS project
• Identified the challenges, barriers and knowledge needs of European Marine and Maritime sectors which have been broken down into nine competence nodes
• Completed the non-contractual activity of collecting all exploitable results from the 33 Oceans of Tomorrow projects, on behalf of the EC to support the launch of the pilot information sharing platform on marine and maritime research.
• Identified 810 marine and maritime projects with possible relevance to the Competence Node needs, of which 312 were confirmed to be relevant
• Collected 1,199 Knowledge Outputs in 111 Knowledge Output Tables from 31 Oceans of Tomorrow projects and other FP7 projects; of which 466 exploitable results were used to populate the pilotEC Information Sharing Platform for Marine and Maritime Research
• Implemented its ‘Dissemination & Exploitation Plan’ including the launch of its website, development of a strong brand and accompanying promotional material; and, carried out 128 dissemination activities as well as becoming active on social media
• The first Annual Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Conference was held in March 2016 (M13).
• Terms of Reference for the COLUMBUS Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Awards were developed.
• Established a high-level Expert Advisory Panel of 14 members with backgrounds in industry, policy, science and civil society
"Marine and maritime research has a critical role to play in developing our understanding of the seas and advancing technology so that we can grow their economic potential in a sustainable manner. However, key substantial research results are not always known or exploited when they could be of use to marine and maritime stakeholders, for example scientists and policy makers.

Significant Identification and Collection of EC funded Marine Research has been done in past projects and COLUMBUS intends to capitalise on this effort by harnessing the knowledge within projects and transferring it. Understanding that Knowledge Transfer is a difficult process, time consuming and with significant challenges, a core principle of the project was to ensure there is a competent team with sufficient critical mass to carry out such a process as a peer community. The Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union (2010) states: ""We need to get more innovation out of our research"". The EC is demanding improved systems and methodologies for knowledge capture and transfer and a need to show demonstrable impact from EU funded research. COLUMBUS is responding to these requirements by utilising a tangible practice based Knowledge Transfer methodology.

As a Coordination and Support Action focused on ensuring value creation from research, the expected impacts of COLUMBUS should be seen in terms of the consequences of improved knowledge uptake by the different marine and maritime stakeholders.
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