Applications are officially open for the "Call For Innovation - Lo sport nella blue economy", the new initiative dedicated to start-ups and SMEs developing innovative solutions in the field of marine sustainability and water sports.
The call is promoted by the City of Genoa (Italy) and developed by Job Centre, with the support of Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo and in collaboration with I3P, in the framework of the project "Towards The Ocean Race. Innovation, Sustainability, Enterprise". The project aims to use the global reach of The Ocean Race as a lever of innovation to generate products, services, and new business activities, capable of measuring up to the sustainable use of the sea while promoting its liveability, accessibility, and usability for all.
The call for proposals, fully available on genovabluedistrict.com, has a total budget of €800,000 and was created in collaboration with the team of The Ocean Race Genova - The Grand Finale 2022-23, which has the task of organising the final stage of the most famous and toughest round-the-world crewed race, which will arrive in Genoa, for the first time in Italy, at the end of June 2023, after six months of sailing and some 32,000 miles covered.
The areas of interest
The call is aimed at companies proposing innovative solutions related to the Blue Economy, within the framework of the values of The Ocean Race and sea sports. The initiative is looking for proposals for processes, products or services that make available innovations that facilitate access to and optimal use of resources, the participation of sportsmen and women in safeguarding and restoring the environment, the use of renewable energies and the reduction of the impact of materials used through design, natural composites or secondary or easily recyclable materials.
Three specific areas are considered to be of particular interest:
- wellbeing, accessibility, usability, with the identification of systems that favour the widespread and balanced use and valorisation of the resources of the coast and the sea;
- materials, design, reuse, with a focus on innovative and sustainable materials that can be used in the nautical sector and the circular economy in the construction of nautical and sports vehicles and equipment;
- energy, with a focus on innovative and green propulsion systems, including in the field of sea sports.
Support for the winning projects
Applicant projects that successfully pass the selection phase will have the opportunity to access the support provided by the initiative, which consists of the following four types of awards:
- a grant of up to €200,000 for the implementation of the proposed project;
- an entrepreneurial development program by I3P;
- an accompanying service by Job Centre for the participation in the Innovation Village in Genoa;
- support for project communication within the Innovation Village.
Who can apply
The initiative is aimed at incorporated companies that fall into four categories: SMEs (registered in the business register of an Italian Chamber of Commerce), innovative SMEs, innovative start-ups and innovative start-ups with a social vocation. Those interested in participating must apply individually and by submitting a single application. To be eligible for the call, the projects must be in one of two possible stages of development: "Ready to market" or "Validated prototype". In the public notice of the call, available on the initiative's official webpage, you will find all the details on the eligibility requirements of applicants and the criteria for the evaluation and selection of candidate projects.
The call for proposals is already open and will close on September 4, 2022. Companies with an entrepreneurial project in line with the research to be applied for can visit the call's website (in Italian language), consult the notice, prepare the necessary documents and fill in the application form.
A great opportunity for development
"The Ocean Race final is an extraordinary opportunity for the promotion of the city and of the sea economy," said Genoa's Councillor for the Port and Sea Policies Francesco Maresca. "We are proud that the Genoa Blue District is a sort of operational headquarters for a unique initiative that will land here in less than a year and that will make it possible to introduce not only our city to the general public but also the whole ecosystem of the blue economy, of which Genoa is a candidate to be the capital at an international level with its sea professions, its know-how, its innovative start-ups, and sea-related sports - also as an opportunity for sustainable development in an ever-increasing balance between economy and environment".
"The call we are launching today," commented Genoa's Councillor for Economic Development Mario Mascia, "aims to identify and support technological solutions or business models to be shown at the Innovation Village of the Ocean Race Final. These solutions will be responsive to the strategic challenges and impact on sustainability, highly innovative and demonstrative, and able to make the effects of product and process innovation effective both on the business side and on the visitor and citizen side. Above all, innovation will be recognised as a virtuous element of projects that have a medium-long term impact for the benefit of the local territory, including employment".
"Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo supports the development of the territorial innovation system by providing it with economic resources, training opportunities to generate new knowledge and skills, physical places that offer a range of services, digital platforms and design processes," said Nicoletta Viziano, member of the Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo Management Committee. "This is the context of the call we are presenting today, which aims to identify and support four technological solutions and business models responding to the strategic and sustainability impact challenges, thus enhancing a new generation of innovators, companies and financial investors, whose peculiar ability is to intentionally produce positive social impacts with sustainability and economic and financial profitability of their initiatives."