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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS - Monitoring, Managing and Transferring Marine and Maritime Knowledge for Sustainable Blue Growth)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

The ‘Coordination and Support Action’ COLUMBUS, represents the most substantial investment by the European Commission in Knowledge Transfer to date. The COLUMBUS project’s overarching objective was to help transfer applicable knowledge generated through European Commission-funded science and technology research and in doing so, help 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). To do this, the COLUMBUS project set up a ‘Knowledge Fellowship’, a network of full-time Knowledge Transfer Fellows whose role was to carry out Knowledge Transfer through a step-wise methodology, based on the needs of European marine and maritime sectors. These Fellows built their capacity in Knowledge Transfer through internal training but also through their experiences and by sharing insights with each other, which meant the methodology could be adapted and refined. The project has resulted in many successful stories of Knowledge Transfer activity thus proving the concept of using a step-wise approach to Knowledge Transfer has real merit and impact. Running from 1 March 2015 until 28 February 2018, the COLUMBUS project has successfully achieved its objectives; has generated a significant number of important outputs which are described in the final report; and, has provided a forum for all stakeholder groups involved in publicly funded research to collaboratively explore the barriers, challenges and possible solutions to increasing the impact potential of marine and maritime research.
• Needs and knowledge gaps identified per sector within each of the COLUMBUS Competence Nodes
• COLUMBUS assisted the European Commission in piloting the ‘Information Sharing Platform on Marine and Maritime Research’ by providing them with more than 400 Knowledge Outputs (KOs) collected from the Oceans of Tomorrow projects.
• 967 projects were reviewed
• 338 projects identified as being potentially relevant
• 208 Knowledge Output Tables completed (one per project, containing multiple KOs).
• 1,779 Knowledge Outputs (KOs) described.
• 1,238 Knowledge Outputs validated and made publicly available through the Marine Knowledge Gate.
• 246 Knowledge Outputs prioritised.
• 61 Knowledge Output Pathways developed.
• 58 case studies of Knowledge Transfer activity.
• 53 stories of Knowledge Transfer activity with 48 available publicly.
• Analysis of existing Knowledge Transfer mechanisms in national funding agencies including assessment of potential limitation due to State Aid Regulation.
• Overview of if (and how) identified needs of marine and maritime sectors in Europe have been met by the Knowledge Outputs selected by each Competence Node in COLUMBUS.
• Screening key European marine observations data and information sharing platforms and the applicability of their resources considered;
• An overview of FP7 projects relevant to major marine and maritime regulations: Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Marine Spatial Planning Directive and revised Common Fisheries Policy and blue growth sectors
• Three annual conferences held
• A European Parliament event was organised
• Three internal capacity training workshops
• Two external capacity training workshops
• Six brokerage events were organised:
• Two videos produced
• Guide on the use and sharing of marine observations and data by industry
• Guide on Maritime Sensor Technologies for the European Market: Research, Development and Implementation.
• COLUMBUS dedicated exhibit at Nausicaá aquaria, Centre National de la Mer.
• Marine Knowledge Gate update and upgrade.
• COLUMBUS Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Handbook
• KT Recommendations for European and national funding agencies
• Uptake of the COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer methodology by European, national and international funding agencies.
• Legacy activities resulting in several approaches, requests for collaboration and cooperation
COLUMBUS was ambitious in its objectives and scope given the limited resources and time available. The project implemented pilot methodologies to collect, analyse and transfer knowledge and in each phase, insights were gained, and processes refined so that the Knowledge Transfer methodology could be replicated. The findings from COLUMBUS also illustrate that numerous Knowledge Outputs have been generated from European Commission marine and maritime research projects including de-novo knowledge, methodologies, products, tools and data. The Knowledge Outputs have applications to users that have the potential to result in varying types of value creation at different levels in society. COLUMBUS also highlighted the need for the European marine and maritime communities to continue to work towards a future where high-quality research is more effectively transferred for measurable impact and the benefits are seen on the ground by society at large. Reflecting on the overall process, what is clear is that there is a lack of established terminology and processes for Knowledge Transfer. Currently there are no clear guidelines on Knowledge Transfer for European-funded research and as such the methods and understanding of Knowledge Transfer vary widely from project to project. There is a need to better define the objectives and methods for different communication activities within projects – dissemination versus outreach versus Knowledge Transfer versus technology transfer. The value of upskilling all actors in the research system to help them better understand the concepts and methodologies for different communication activities and how to measure success in effective communications cannot be underestimated. The roles and responsibilities of actors in the process needs to be reassessed as in many cases it is not clear who has the responsibility for Knowledge Transfer. What is also clear from the experiences of the project is that while there are challenges with regard to the Knowledge Transfer process (what it is, how to carry it out, how to measure impact), there are also bigger issues at play which concern the manner in which publicly funded scientific research is carried out and the role it plays in society. Inherent differences exist between the research community, industry, policy-makers and other users of knowledge (e.g. different technical levels, priorities, agendas, and time scales) resulting in multiple barriers that prevent effective Knowledge Transfer and innovation. There also needs to be a change in culture within the research community with less emphasis on peer-reviewed publications, and more incentives to ensure that results are transferred and utilised by users. This can lead to an evolution of the entire scientific research lifecycle which in turn could result in an increased return on investment in research and a stronger, more robust knowledge-based economy. The COLUMBUS partnership is committed to continue their work to try and overcome the numerous barriers to demonstrable value creation from research. The work of COLUMBUS has helped progress the state-of-the-art in Knowledge Transfer of publicly funded research, but a lot more work and collective action is required.