And what if we reinvented the regional approach?

Current economic models do not work because they are outdated and disconnected from economic and social realities. Ironically, most of the old European countries who advocated for decentralization and the transfer of financial expertise and decision-making power to the regions have failed, and are now waiting for the miraculous return of economic recovery.

As advocacy for the development of a circular economy and citizens rises, it is urgent that our politicians understand that the future success of their national economy lies in inter-regional multi-complementarity. The nation-state in economic terms no longer reflects the reality of business. Most young entrepreneurs have embraced the concepts of transversal and trans-regionality for the development of their projects. By trans-regionality, I mean the possibility of collaboration between two regions within or without the same state, whether European or not.

Administrative and fiscal borders represent a barrier to the scheduled growth, and prevent development inhibitor whilst making us believe that we can protect our domestic markets which are under fierce international competition.

Large groups who flood us with their products laugh at those borders as the financial and administrative arrangements allow them to succeed where our SMEs are struggling due to lack of funds.

The creative energy of a country or a region lies in the fabric of innovative SMEs, not in large industrial groups that have armies of lawyers and tax experts specialized in the capture of all regional, national and European subsidies. Creating wealth is not the responsibility of our politicians but rather of business entrepreneurs. Sustainability and social criteria are already part of young entrepreneur’s code of ethics, and their vision goes far beyond our archaic frameworks.

Liberate these energies; let us give some air to those responsible entrepreneurs who have in their hands the destiny of our old countries condemned by their redundant approaches. The Canadian model is full of lessons and although far from perfect, it demonstrates its economic efficiency in the field of blue growth. How?

The Atlantic provinces (known as the Maritimes) and Quebec on the coast represent the lung of this new blue economy. Each province has its own natural resources and has in fact developed its own industrial and economic research tracks. PEI has become the center of excellence in the use of marine-derived molecules for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. Nova Scotia has focused on the biorefinery of algae, by-products of fishing, aquaculture as well as the extraction of biomolecule and marine renewable energies. Québec has asserted its jurisdiction in the field of blue biotechnology, bio remediation, natural antifouling based biofilms, marine technologies developed around the clean shipping, and marine energy. Newfoundland and New Brunswick have focused on the treatment of co-products of fishing and the development of offshore aquaculture and seaweed culture.

With its own skills, each province develops its own international network to attract projects and investors. This is done with the coordinated support of the federal government, which provides legal framework and financial assistance.

Europe and European governments could learn from the Canadian model by giving regions more autonomy and power regarding economic decisions. Aquitaine, Scotland, Portugal, the Canary Islands and Norway have so many obvious synergies to be developed around the blue growth.

The North Atlantic arc extended to the US and Canadian east coast, is a unique and real opportunity for inter-regional collaboration. It would create major projects, financed by private/public structural funds, which would require a majority of SMEs working in transnational clusters. This would help to create sustainable jobs and generate the development of key enabling technologies that will create new economic opportunities for this new blue economy.

Let’s talk about Norway and its three regions which are technological leaders in aquaculture, Biorefinery, the production of enzymes, and bio remediation. The central government has created mechanisms and effective financial tools which allow these technologies to be easily exported within the cooperation agreement framework, which promote Norwegian expertise.

This year at BioMarine, you will find this new approach. The idea of ​​this BioMarine 2016 is to establish commercial relations between the SMEs of our networks, promote applied research partnerships between-leading scientific organizations, induce cooperation agreements between major academic centres so that this blue growth becomes a transnational economic reality.

Through the clusters that our BioMarine International Clusters Association involves, we will connect these SMEs with major project developers; we will direct contact investors with companies working in different regions; and we will facilitate the political debate between different agencies to concretely ensure the deployment of measures essential to the fluidity of the projects.

You now understand why, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are key years for the development of these regional partnerships. BioMarine International Clusters association and its business platform BioMarine are acting to ensure that the blue challenges of tomorrow become a source of growth, job creation and a means to improve our living standards.

We will need all these energies to achieve this agenda. I am counting on you!

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