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It is called TEC4Sea and it is a groundbreaking European platform intended for investigating, developing, testing and validating technologies for the enhancement of the Economy of the Sea. Created by INESC TEC and CINTAL, this infrastructure has at its disposal an investment of 5.3 million euros in order to develop oceanic technologies and already has an Advisory Council composed of 10 reputable institutions in the Sea sector. 

What is TEC4SEA?

Created by INESC TEC and CINTAL (The Centre for Technological Investigation of Algarve), TEC4SEA has several laboratories spread throughout the country that aim to develop technologies for the sea, capacitate companies and train highly qualified human resources.   

The great advantage of this infrastructure is that it allows a multidisciplinary investigation support and access to the deep sea, aided by the geographical location of its facilities, which allows researchers and companies to fill the blanks between the simulation environment/laboratorial experience and the operational tests at sea.

Acknowledged by the FCT under the scope of the National Roadmap of Research Infrastructures of Strategic Relevance, TEC4SEA is starting its implementation phase with financing from NORTE 2020, ALGARVE 2020 and FCT. It has an investment of 5.3 million euros available. 

Who can use it?

TEC4SEA welcomes external institutions and provides a set of support facilities, laboratories, testbeds and equipment for R&D activities, experiments and validations, both in controlled and real environments. 

The platform can be used by traditional industries such as fishing and aquaculture, fish processing, transports, construction, naval reparation and ports. Emerging industries such as deep-sea mining, oil & gas from deep and ultra-deep sea, hi-tech products and services, offshore renewable energy, offshore aquaculture, biotechnology, surveillance and maritime safety, can also benefit from TEC4SEA. 

“This infrastructure is a great asset for companies because it gives them logistical, technical and human support throughout the process of developing, testing and validating, and optimizes technology transfer to the market”, says Augustin Olivier, one of the managers of TEC4SEA.

tec4sea tec4sea

What impacts can it have on the economy of the Portuguese sea?

The expected extension of the Portuguese Continental Platform will make the total area of the country grow to about 4 million km², representing an increase of over 40 times when compared to the current area of Portugal. In addition, Portugal has the third largest European economic zone and a geostrategic position that causes the crossing of maritime highways. 

“We have a national sea so wide and deep, we just have to start truly exploring it. Actually, 30% of European seabeds are yet to be explored”, recalls Augustin Olivier. “This multidisciplinary ability to develop new technologies, and, at the same time, test and validate solutions on a real environment, grants TEC4SEA a unique ability to create impact on several economic sectors”, he concludes. 

The goals established for the traditional industries consist of increasing the competitiveness of companies that operate in sectors ranging from fishing/aquaculture to the sustainable exploitation of resources (living and non-living, including the deep sea), robotics and autonomous systems, ICT applied to maritime environments, new materials, surveillance, naval reparation and maintenance, the processing industry, and renewable energies, amongst others. Concerning emergent industries, TEC4SEA will facilitate the technological capability of companies. 

tec4sea business2sea

Top advisors gather in Business2Sea

The Advisory Council of TEC4SEA was created on the 5th of July with the purpose of enhancing multidisciplinary R&D in sea areas and the development of the associated economic sectors, but also to help interpret and reflect the strategies in the activities and areas of intervention of the infrastructure. 

The protocol, signed during the Business2Sea event, gathered representatives of the institutions that will integrate for the next three years the Advisory Council of TEC4SEA: CCDRN - North Regional Coordination and Development Committee, Fórum Oceano – Association of Maritime Economy, TICE.PT – The National Portuguese ICT Cluster, PLOCAN - Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands, APDL – Administração dos Portos do Douro, Leixões e Viana do Castelo, Arsenal do Alfeite, A. Silva Matos Group, IPMA - The Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, e INEGI – Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Other organisations are expected to sign the protocol and become members of the infrastructure’s Advisory Council.

Together, these institutions have the mission of advising, representing and collecting contributions and opinions from different sectors of society, within the framework of the infrastructure, supporting TEC4SEA in matters such as national, regional and economic policies, and evaluating the context and the impact of the activities yet to be developed regarding the respective strategies. 

technologies turtle

Featuring Technologies for the Sea

In addition to the signing of the protocol, INESC TEC attended Business2Sea, presenting the most recent technologies for the Sea, together with CIIMAR. Some of the highlights were Slocum-Glider (vehicle for long-range remote observation of water columns for academic, military and commercial applications), Flexus (a small catamaran that allows the study of telecommunication networks under the scope of IoT), operative buoys (that integrate an underwater acoustic positioning system for autonomous or tele-operated underwater vehicles) and Bluebox (a box for land-sea communications, used in search and rescue situations).

Other highlights include 3Port (a tool that allows the management of the business processes and needs of port authorities in an integrated way, but also the interaction with the general public by letting them see in real time what is happening in the port), SeaBioData (a project that intends to generate data regarding biodiversity in Portuguese seamounts) and, concerning CINTAL, an acoustic system for underwater communication.

INESC TEC also organised a joint workshop with CIIMAR to present the project Spilless - First-line response to oil spills based on native microorganism cooperation, a new European project that intends to develop an integrated solution for responding to oil spills using native microorganisms capable of biodegrading oil and also to incorporate them in unmanned autonomous vehicles that would allow their application in locations affected by pollution incidents. This project gathers INESC TEC, CIIMAR, University of Vigo, ACSM, Biotrend and MARLO. 

sea sea tech

The near future

TEC4SEA has laboratories from Porto to Faro. In Porto alone, there are six laboratories currently provided by INESC TEC to support this infrastructure, but the aim is for the Port of Leixões to be the main centre in the North region. CINTAL also provides its laboratories in Algarve. 

With a focus on areas such as maritime robotics, telecommunications and sensors capable of monitoring and operating in marine environments, TEC4SEA plans to extend these areas to others of strategic interest. 

The TEC4SEA platform will also allow the admission of other institutions. With that in mind, the website will soon provide relevant information. 

The researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with INESC TEC.