BLACK SEA ACCELERATOR

Facilitated by BRIDGE-BS and DOORS Projects

FOR A SUSTAINABLE BLUE ECONOMY

ABOUT BLACK SEA ACCELERATOR

Jointly promoted and managed by the BRIDGE-BS and DOORS projects, the Black Sea Accelerator (BSA) is a comprehensive initiative designed to foster the development of innovative blue economy projects aimed at sustainable growth in the Black Sea region. The BSA offers a range of targeted activities, including training sessions, workshops, and expert discussions, all geared towards supporting blue economy innovators. Selected participants receive free assistance to scale up their business ideas and gain access to valuable funding and investment opportunities.

What is it?

The accelerator supports the scaling up of sustainable businesses operating in the Blue Economy across the Black Sea by offering services to strengthen market analysis, pitching capacity and matchmaking opportunities with funding and investments.

What does it aim?

The aim is to transform science into future business opportunities to provide services and support initiatives to achieve BRIDGE-BS's goals of fostering a sustainable, innovative and circular blue economy.

Who can benefit from it?

The main target is Black Sea-based eligible organizations such as companies, start-ups, organizations, and universities, but the program also welcomes non-regional applicants interested in extending their solutions in the region.

What can be supported?

Both established (market-ready) and emerging solutions are eligible. However, applicants should provide a detailed explanation of their solutions in the finalization stage of their application.

Why you should join?

Mentoring and Support

Mentoring and support will empower you with personalized guidance and assistance by enabling to identify and leverage your strengths to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.

Stronger Network

Participating in the accelerator program allows you to connect with a diverse and influential network of entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts, and potential partners within the Black Sea region.

Actual Feedback

Actual feedback from customers and users across the Black Sea will help you to understand market needs, refining your product or service, and making informed decisions to enhance its value and appeal.

Idea Validation

You will have the opportunity to validate your business idea by testing your idea's viability, market demand, competitive landscape, and potential profitability.

Skill Development

Support in developing the essential skills will secure a convincing startup or funding pitch to effectively communicate the value proposition of your venture, increasing your chances of success.

Maximize the Potential

By actively engaging with the program resources and making the most of the support provided, you can maximize the potential outcomes and benefits of your entrepreneurial journey.

What support do we offer?

Expert Support

The accelerator provides comprehensive support to applicants through expert consultants who specialize in various areas. These consultants offer assistance in market analysis, identifying areas for improvement, and providing tailored advice to individual applicants. This ensures that applicants receive personalized support to enhance their technologies or services.

Financing and Investment Facilitation

To aid applicants in securing financing and investments, the accelerator conducts "investors pitching" training sessions in groups. These sessions equip applicants with the necessary skills to effectively present their ideas and attract potential investors. Additionally, the accelerator offers assistance in accessing finance, providing guidance on funding opportunities and connecting applicants with relevant financial resources.

Start-up Support

For applicants with promising ventures, the accelerator offers valuable business mentoring support. This includes one-on-one guidance from experienced mentors who can provide valuable insights and help refine their business strategies. This support can be provided directly by the accelerator or in collaboration with other initiatives to provide a holistic mentoring experience.

Market Access Assistance

The accelerator aims to expand the reach of applicants beyond the Black Sea region. For non-Black Sea applicants, the accelerator offers support to connect with local potential partners who are interested in their proposed technologies or services. This support includes covering field trips and organizing meetings to facilitate meaningful collaborations and market entry.

By playing a catalytic role in support of the blue economy and the development of sustainable practices for marine and maritime applications, marine and coastal observation and monitoring contribute to keeping our oceans healthy and conserving biodiversity, monitoring climate change, and fostering a sustainable blue economy.[1] Observation and monitoring of marine and coastal ecosystem quality – through the assessment of the impact of man-made activities, the conditions for sustainable exploitation of local ecosystems, as well as the assessment of policy baselines and monitoring of sectoral impact through time – allow for the development of complex value chains. These include data collection, transformation of such data into information and services, and offering the potential for the establishment of innovative start-ups and new businesses across the Black Sea region.

Some examples of marketable solutions for coastal and maritime monitoring and observations, supported by the BRIDGE-BS Accelerator, include (but are not limited to): cost-effective real-time monitoring, automated underwater/aerial drones, and sensors, applications offering water-quality assessments to aquaculture farms, immersive reality offering remote touristic experiences, surveillance and monitoring services for Port Authorities, data services for decision-making actors in the market, etc.

[1] https://www.eu4oceanobs.eu/mission/

Port activities and maritime transport, with the related logistics services and infrastructures, are historically one of the most performing blue economy activities for the Black Sea.[1]  several challenges, both regional[2] and global[3], have increasingly threatened the sustainability of the sector and new innovative practices and solutions are vital for its transformation such as decarbonization of transport. Amongst those transformations, is the transition towards the concept of Green Ports,[4] aimed at fostering energy-efficient and sustainable sources for port activities, and new business strategies to face a global crisis.[5]

Some examples of marketable solutions for ports, transport, and logistics, supported by the BRIDGE-BS Accelerator include (but are not limited to): solutions and services aimed at fostering ports as ‘decarbonization hubs’, digital solutions to improve real-time port and logistics management, innovative (green) port infrastructures and business services towards short-sea shipping promotion in the region, introduction electrified ships and other vehicles to the Black Sea region, etc.

[1] BRIDGE-BS D7.1 « GUIDELINES FOR THE ACCELERATOR PLATFORM IMPLEMENTATION”

[2] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2022/739267/EPRS_ATA(2022)739267_EN.pdf

[3] https://unctad.org/webflyer/covid-19-and-maritime-transport-navigating-crisis-and-lessons-learned

[4] https://www.ecoports.com/about

[5] https://unctad.org/system/files/non-official-document/cimem9_2022_P2_SUBRAMANIAM_0.pdf

Fisheries is another relevant activity for the region which is increasingly regulated to avoid illegal and unsustainable practices.[1] Globally, marine aquaculture has emerged in the past decade as a viable solution for an effective option in the exploitation of marine resources for the production of food and added-value products/services.[2] The Black Sea has recently seen a similar pattern in the growth of aquaculture practices, although currently challenged by the regional crisis, but greater sustainable innovation is needed to make the sector fully profitable and respectful of local ecosystems.[3]

Some examples of marketable solutions for fisheries and aquaculture supported by the BRIDGE-BS Accelerator include (but are not limited to): sustainable (bio) feeding, real-time tracking of captures, bycatch reduction solutions, efficient monitoring including fish health, optimization of food distribution and overall management, added-value of waste, blue-biotech, algae, and other advanced means for economic gain through product diversification, including circular models for waste management, circulating aquaculture systems, etc.

[1] BRIDGE-BS D7.1 « GUIDELINES FOR THE ACCELERATOR PLATFORM IMPLEMENTATION”

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_1554

[3] https://www.aquafeed.com/newsroom/reports/recent-boom-in-aquaculture-under-threat-in-the-black-sea-region/

Coastal and maritime tourism is yet another important sector for the Black Sea, although still largely concentrated on certain limited destinations and large-scale ‘traditional’ offers.[1] The current model offers limited gains to local communities and implies negative impacts on local coastal and marine ecosystems.[2] Greater potentials should therefore be exploited towards small-scale and innovative touristic solutions and products, greater sustainability and ecosystem protection, as well as the adoption of digital and remote solutions.[3] These are all valuable niches for new business opportunities.[4]

Some examples of marketable solutions for sustainable coastal and maritime tourism and recreational activities, supported by the BRIDGE-BS Accelerator, include (but are not limited to): new products/services for sustainable access (including virtual) to cultural and naturalistic experiences, including sustainable touristic exploitation of underwater natural heritage, digital solutions and applications enabling augmented touristic offers, new (green) infrastructures including digital services for yachting and marinas, etc.

[1]  BRIDGE-BS D7.1 « GUIDELINES FOR THE ACCELERATOR PLATFORM IMPLEMENTATION”

[2] http://www.bsec-organization.org/areas-of-cooperation/tourism/action-plan

[3] https://icbss.org/new-icbss-publication-exploiting-tourism-4-0-potentials-for-the-black-sea-january-2022/

[4] https://icbss.org/cultoure4youth-final-report/

The commercial exploitation of marine organisms and their biomass is a fast-growing sector across all European sea basins and as such offers great economic opportunities to the Black Sea.[1] The production of such organisms is closely linked with advanced aquaculture solutions and associated with the use of renewable aquatic biological biomass, e.g. food additives, animal feedstuffs, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and energy. This is a high-rated niche for investors.[2]

Some examples of marketable solutions for blue biotechs and related products, supported by the BRIDGE-BS Accelerator, include (but are not limited to): cellular mariculture,[3] cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, crop nutrition/bio-fertilizers, bio-packaging and innovative applications including textile fibers, laundry detergents, construction materials, and biochar for soil improvement, as well as contribute to ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, removal of nutrients and CO2, ecosystem support, ocean habitat restoration, coastal ecosystem resilience, etc.

[1] https://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/en/w/smart-specialisation-and-blue-biotechnology-in-europe

[2] https://blog.euroquity.com/eu/Looking-for-blue-economy-investments-Discover-the-3rd-BlueInvest-e-pitch-session-on-November-18th-at-4-00-PM-CET_a226.html

[3] Defined as marine products from cell cultures rather than from whole plants or animals

Sustainable and renewable marine energy solutions[1] are increasing their path of development[2] across all European sea basins,[3] also as a response to the current global energy crisis[4], although with different levels of uptake and potential.[5] In the Black Sea, the sector is still very embryonic with some potential for offshore wind.[6] Support in the Black Sea would include greater data generation and assessment/monitoring of energy potentials, as well as relevant policy (including Maritime Spatial Planning) as well as the development of support services for the grid[7] – with port activities having a great potential in becoming renewable-energy hubs[8] for the region and beyond.

Some examples of marketable solutions for sustainable and renewable marine energy supported by the BRIDGE-BS Accelerator include (but are not limited to): data analytics services, innovative tools, and platforms for renewable marine energy deployment, added-value services across value-chain, etc. This is an embryonic sector so any support service and technology enabling its growth would be considered.

[1] https://oceans-and-fisheries.ec.europa.eu/ocean/blue-economy/marine-renewable-energy_en

[2] https://stateofgreen.com/en/news/eu-amps-up-ambitions-for-offshore-renewable-energy-capacities/

[3] https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/renewable-energy/offshore-renewable-energy_en

[4] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20221209IPR64422/energy-crisis-meps-back-plans-to-boost-the-deployment-of-renewables

[5] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:52020DC0741&rid=1

[6] https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/maritimeforum/en/node/7383

[7] https://www.ceps.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PI2020-26_Black-Sea-offshore-wind-power.pdf

[8] https://maritime-executive.com/editorials/sustainable-ports-as-energy-hubs

Nature-based solutions are defined as solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously providing environmental, social, and economic benefits and helping to build resilience. Such solutions bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes, and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient, and systemic interventions.[1]

Some examples of marketable solutions for coastal and marine nature-based solutions include (but are not limited to): eco-designed marine infrastructures, biomimicry applications, carbon sequestration, etc. with linkages to relevant sectors such as sustainable aquaculture, and nature-based tourism.[2]

[1] https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/research-area/environment/nature-based-solutions_en

[2] https://unfccc.int/news/unlocking-finance-how-coastal-adaptation-and-nature-based-solutions-could-meet-funding-criteria

How does it work?

Application

Application is the initial starting point where black sea operators such as businesses, academia or other actors submit a structured application form.

Screening

Screening is the process where the received applications are revised and assessed on the basis of the “selection criteria”, so to identify the most promising applications to be further assessed.

Decision

After carefully considering the preceding steps, a well-defined decision is formulated and effectively communicated to the chosen applicants.

Acceleration

To ensure a smooth transition and ongoing assistance, comprehensive follow-up support activities are promptly initiated.

May '23
Oct '23
Nov '23
Dec '23 - Apr '24
Jun '24
16 Oct 2024
Sept-Nov '24
Dec '24

2ND CALL IS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

The 2nd and final call for proposals will be open until 20 July 2024.  The decision-making process for the 2nd call concluded by Early September, allowing the program to commence promptly after that.

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