Blue Growth at Ghent University

Seas and oceans are identified as key drivers for the European economy with potential for innovation and growth.
Ghent University contributes to the blue growth.

The EU-Framework

Blue Growth is the long term strategy defined by the European Union in 2012 to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors(1). It is the maritime contribution to achieve the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth whereby Seas and oceans are identified as key drivers for the European economy with potential for innovation and growth(2).

Blue Growth at Ghent University

In marine and maritime technology, Ghent University (UGent) offers a wide range of education programmes, research activities and facilities. Simultaneously UGent enables and facilitates the transfer of the university’s research results towards the market through business developers fostering a close and productive relationship between researchers and companies in an adequate socio-economic environment. From 2016 onwards the Board of Directors of Ghent University decided to cluster its ongoing marine and maritime activities and initiatives under the Blue Growth umbrella coupling this to its Campus in Ostend.

In this framework UGent research and valorization clusters with expertise in the blue growth domains united to apply a coordinated multidisciplinary approach.


UGent’s key activities linked to blue growth include:

Join the UGent Blue Growth Summerschool in September 2016 hosted at GreenBridge,
UGent Campus @ Sea

Click for pictures and presentations of UGent Blue Growth Event
of 6th June 2016: 'Unknown, Unloved?'

Details on some key actors

Aquaculture Ghent University (Aqua UGent) groups over 150 top UGent scientists involved in Sustainable Aquaculture research, education and development cooperation. Together they cover a wide range of aquaculture domains including hatchery management, genetics and breeding, microbial management, health management, environmental monitoring and aquaculture business management. One of the latest Aqua UGent achievements is the creation and incubation of IMAQUA bvba, an SME specialized in shrimp health research. In the framework of the roadmap project AquaValue, Aqua UGent will lead the pilot projects on integrated aquaculture and multispecies hatcheries in close collaboration with Belgian windmill farms.
GreenBridge is an UGent demonstrator-incubator with a science park that attracts and nurtures young companies e.g. R&D by providing office space and mentoring assistance through its triple helix stakeholder network. The first infrastructures to be build on the 20 hectares science park are a Coastal Ocean Bassin (C.O.B.) and a towing tank, both will be built under a key blue energy initiative ‘Gen4Wave’ an action plan related to wave and tidal energy. The infrastructures will allow to test scale models of coastal engineering buildings, offshore constructions, wave and tidal energy converters as well as offshore wind turbines under the influence of waves, currents and wind loads. Gen4Wave will also provide a platform for Flemish stakeholder interaction on the latest trends in wave and tidal energy in search of new joint innovative R&D projectsLocated in Ostend, GreenBridge, as the UGent Campus by the sea, will also provide targeted training activities tailored to the needs of the marine and maritime industry e.g. blue summer schools.
Marine@UGent is a cross-disciplinar Consortium uniting marine and maritime research groups from Ghent University that promotes and facilitates the interdisciplinary cooperation between thirty research groups from six faculties (Bio-Engineering, Science, Engineering & Architecture, Law, Veterinary Medicine, and Medicine & Health Sciences) with Flanders Marine Institute. The Consortium ambitions innovative research results and outreach activities to boost marine research and technological innovation.
Several members of the cluster UGent-SET are active in ocean energy (wind, wave and tidal). We have partnered in several national and international projects within these domains incl. the framework programs of the EU. Milestone projects include the IWT R&D project FlanSea ‘Flanders electricity from the sea’ that involved 4 SET groups and resulted in the launch of the wave energy converter (WEC) ‘Wave Pioneer’ in 2013. Furthermore UGent-SET has been closely collaborating with Laminaria developing a new WEC prototype that underwent scale sea trials in Belgium. Currently Laminaria is constructing a full-scale device for performance testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Scotland in 2017. A third key project launched in 2015 is ‘Climate REsilient coaST’ that aims to gain a better understanding of the nearshore and onshore physical processes and flood risks and to determine the resilience of the coastal system, in order to deal in the most appropriate way with the possible impact of climate change. Finally UGent-SET is also active in the field of (offshore) wind: for example through the development of tools for blade modelling and condition monitoring, by investigating the potential of providing ancillary services with offshore wind parks and developing methods for scour protection strategies.
Marine Training Platform is an initiative of the UGent to provide, facilitate and centralize access to Marine and Maritime human capacity building opportunities in Europe. Under the auspice of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre and the need of bridging the existing skills gap between the academia and the industry, UGent initiated this supporting framework to foster new Blue Growth training initiatives and enhance exchange of best practice including a set of tools for the hosting and advertisement of Blue Career focused trainings. More than 900 Marine and Maritime training initiatives from 40 countries are covered in the database. By offering trainees access to a wide repository of trainings, MSc & PhD programmes, workshop and courses, and by assisting trainers and stakeholders, the Marine Training Platform will become the “European Blue Training one-stop-shop”.