As waterborne transport systems are increasingly the backbone of the international trade and exchange of goods, the research and innovation activities in that field cannot be tackled at national levels alone. Coordinated actions are required for the maritime industry to strengthen Europe’s position in this important and complex economic field. Concentrated and targeted RDI funding on common research priorities will foster waterborne transport in Europe. In this highly competitive sector networking, transnational collaboration and joint initiatives are the keys to success. Actual challenges in that field are:
• National and European research in the waterborne sector is often poorly coordinated. Synergies towards implementing common goals could only be achieved through a better coordination and harmonizing the foci of funding programmes;
• While collaborative projects funded by the EC are often quite large and complex to attract participation especially of SMEs, national funding schemes offer limited opportunities to collaborate with foreign partners, especially if cross-border funding is impossible;
• The participation in transnational projects offers advantages by using the own national funding, to tackle complex projects which cannot be accomplished by one nation and enter into new markets.
• Industry and research actors have quite a variety of technologically innovative ideas to strengthen Europe’s economic position in this sector which require transnational cooperation.

The MARTEC initiative provided a unique and substantial contribution for improving the above mentioned challenges so far. Based on this experience a closer cooperation of Member States (MS) is essential to foster waterborne transport. The positive effects of cooperation will lead to an increase of maritime investments which subsequently strengthen the industrial innovation and secure jobs. The realisation of a European research and innovation agenda needs a broader and systematic cooperation in the area of waterborne transport covering relevant maritime and marine sectors and regions.

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