INESC TEC and four other Portuguese institutions – CeiiA, CoLAB +ATLANTIC, Fórum Oceano and WavEC – decided to take a decisive step in the joint endeavour initiated in 2020, and joined efforts to create OceanACT, a 100% Portuguese consortium aimed at promoting the test of innovative ocean technologies in Portugal
The main objective of this Consortium is to create the OceanACT-Atlantic Lab for Future Technologies, a centre for the development, testing, demonstration and certification of technologically innovative products and services within the scope of Blue Economy; the OceanACT-Atlantic will be responsible for managing and promoting the demonstration infrastructures available in the country.
The creation of the OceanACT Consortium, in July, reinforces the commitment of the five founding institutions to make Portugal a reference in terms of testing of ocean technologies, a fundamental and decisive step in the development of scientific research infrastructures and the optimisation of their performance. The initiative will link the test area of Aguçadoura and the pilot-area of Viana do Castelo with other infrastructures, namely with marine robotics, telecommunications, and sensing technologies for monitoring and operating in ocean contexts.
António Sarmento, president of WavEC and head of the OceanACT Consortium, stresses the importance of including an institution that focuses on creating a strategic hub in Portugal that is globally acknowledged in the development of highly innovative ocean technologies: “The ocean will be the new frontier of knowledge and economy in the 21st century, and this requires the development, testing and validation of a wide range of technologies and suppliers. In this sense, several European initiatives focusing on creating networks composed of ocean test centres are working towards this goal. Portugal must be at the forefront of this movement, thus helping the national value chain to anticipate its potential supplies, the development of industrial property and the creation of qualified employment. OceanACT has this clear ambition, and it aims to become an entity open to other partners who identify with the project”. The Consortium will encourage the operationalisation and updating of existing test infrastructures, leveraging the establishment of demonstration projects in said facilities and the supply of associated services, promoting access mechanisms among the main bodies.
Through developments in marine renewable energy and ocean observation, the Blue Economy is playing an increasingly relevant role in boosting the Portuguese economy. However, there is still great potential for the development and demonstration of ocean technologies, not only for energy production, but also for offshore aquaculture and support systems like autonomous underwater robotic systems for monitoring, operation, or maintenance processes.
There are several administrative processes underway, in order to meet some central goals of the OceanACT Consortium: to establish a legal body in 2022 and to launch the activities of the development and testing centre in 2023.