Maritime industry comes together to identify its future research needs

The major players in the waterborne transport sector will come together in Bremen today to start work towards a common strategic vision for the future research needs of this sector. The Waterborne Transport Technology Platform will involve industry, national authorities, regulatory bodies, research centres and universities and will seek to stimulate more effective public and private investment in research and development and improve the coherence of research activities at European, national, regional and local level. The Commission was represented at today’s launch by its Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen.


Background

The maritime sector is big business: 90% of the EU’s external trade and 40% of its internal trade is transported by sea. Europe is a world leader in the design, manufacture and production of specialist, complex high technology vessels such as cruise liners and liquefied natural gas tankers. However it faces increasing competitions from East Asia with regard to high volume ship production. In order for Europe’s shipping industry to survive, it must continue to innovate. This is the driving force behind today’s initiative. Better coordination of research across Europe will help to cement Europe’s position as an environmentally responsible, safe operator and manufacturer.

Today’s launch is just the latest in a series of Technology Platforms created with the support of the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

European research in the maritime sector already addresses important issues such as preventing maritime oil spills and improving the evacuation of passengers in the event of accidents, as well as more basic research into hydrodynamics, which can lead to more energy efficiency in the marine transport sector. In the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, €153 million has so far been made available for maritime transport research.

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