Read how the MISTRAL partner Hellenic Center for Marine Research organized the national competition of Greece.

The Blue Prototype National Business Plan Competition & Acceleration Scheme has been launched by HCMR in collaboration with the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE-TCG) based in Athens with branches in seventeen (17) geographical regions of Greece, as well as with the third party participation of the Region of Attica, the capital region of the country.

Interested parties, individuals or teams of up to five (5) members, had one month and a half (26 November 2019 – 12 January 2020), following an open call for proposals, to prepare and submit their proposals to a specific brief electronically posted on the Blue Prototype platform. The competition campaign started with the issuance of a press release on 2 August 2019, while the opening of the platform was announced in a press conference given at the highest level, namely by the Governor of Attica and the Presidents of HCMR and TEE-TCG, to explain the competition  in detail and to provide interested applicants with the necessary guidelines. The given press releases received a considerable attention in the media. Besides, for attracting meaningful applications, the HCMR team, drawing on the results of the MISTRAL studies, delineated the research and technological challenges with high innovation potential in Greece (MISTRAL Blue Growth Challenges) and identified with the other partners good practices that can be followed by local organisations to ensure a sustainable maritime economy (MISTRAL Good Practices Collection). To substantiate and enrich these good practices, HCMR had previously organised (27 February 2019) a national collaboration workshop.

The HCMR tean has met all the target values, namely:

  • at least 10 applications received
  • up to 10 "entrants"
  • more than 5 "graduates"
  • at least 6 Greek regions involved

Fifteen (15) applications were submitted, from seven (7) Greek regions, of which fourteen (14) were collected as eligible, while one (1) fell into an ineligible MISTRAL sector, namely Shipbuilding and Ship Repair. In the first step, eight (8) successful applicants, selected after a thorough evaluation by a Judging and Advisory Committee concluded on 24 January 2020 (classified as "entrants"), entered as beneficiaries into the business readiness acceleration programme of the “Blue Prototype” Scheme. Four (4) out of the five (5) eligible MISTRAL sectors have been preferred. Maritime Surveillance has not been preferred at all. In the circumstances of the defining global health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, the main activities carried out during the acceleration period were accomplished in unprecedented conditions, not only of restriction but ultimately of prohibition of any physical communication and lockdown of physical office. An increased effort was made to manage communication within a group of people not physically working together.

Hands-on mentoring

The personalised mediation of mentors in advance of and ongoing the group work minimised the distance of communication. Four (4) mentors supported the eight (8) "entrants" (mentees) of “Blue Prototype” in a high-touch and engaging manner, assuring as well their capacity to assimilate formal group instruction provided by distance in real time, namely by synchronous live webinars. The guided mentoring relationship continued normally during the whole process, using online software, telephone, or email, allowing this way the participants to communicate at their own convenience and with safety since it eliminates the need for them to be in the same physical location.

Training Webinars

After all, the group sessions went even better, for the cold pathway of communication by distance, with the option to limit the number of instructοrs, making webinars as streamlined as possible. Actually, two (2) instructors provided the two (2) courses of the acceleration programme, four (4) group sessions in total. Having been thoughtfully redesigned, the formal experiential-based group instruction sessions were delivered by distance via an official teleconference service offered by the Greek National Infrastructures for Research and Technology (GRNET) for the members of the Greek academic and research community. The business readiness acceleration programme of the “Blue Prototype” Scheme began with the course of “Preparing Business: Strategy – Model (Value Proposition) – Plan” in two (2) sessions. The ongoing evaluation of the programme revealed the need of the attendees for a further exploratory, adaptive, and experimental approach to their value proposition. "Service design" (in contrast to "Waterfall" methods of Business Model Canvas) was taken as the second course, also in two (2) sessions.

Graduation of beneficiaries

The beneficiaries had to attend all classes and complete all set assessment tasks of the tutor-led acceleration programme. The mentors helped the participants to identify and achieve personal growth goals through tailor-fitted information delivery that supports a suitable turning of their ideas into promising business plans (accelerating their business readiness). As for the “Graduation” from the programme, this achievement was earned through a standard operation, namely with the successful elaboration of the deliverables requested. The shortcoming of the lack of a physical public demo day event (pitching competition event) was mitigated by the idea of a recorded slideshow with audio narration, up to ten (10) minutes long, which the beneficiaries deliberately prepared as a means to highlight their aspiring business plans in a fresh way, having integrated, more or less, the elements acquired during the acceleration programme, gains that enrich and potentially ensure their value proposition and, therefore, strengthen their business models. All teams but one (1*) [seven (7) out of eight (8)] succeeded in this step (ended on 8 April 2020), picking up their “Graduation”.

Furthemore, the best two (2) teams were qualified for the next phase, "Exit", that is to say, for the international final event (Business Plan Competition) of MISTRAL. It is worth mentioning that the members of the selected teams come from the periphery, from the Regions of Central Macedonia in the North Aegean Sea and Western Greece in the Ionian Sea, respectively. The selection, concluded on 8 May 2020, was based on the following criteria, as agreed on with the instructors and mentors of the acceleration programme:

  • State of the innovative, active and competitive elements of their plans
  • Readiness level
  • Expected impact

Toward the international milestone, the best two (2) “graduates”, named «Maistroi» after wind Mistral (Maestrale in Italian), will further receive pitching and presentation skills training.

In regard to the non-realized local (Greek) demo day (pitching competition event), with which the "Graduation" from "Blue Prototype" was originally scheduled to be associated, it remains an option, now as a showcase event. The expected high-level TEE-TCG public conference on implementing the European Green Deal, whenever conditions allow it to take place physically, is ideally suited for this purpose, even more so for the purposes of matchmaking and networking.

Selected Teams/ Business Plans 

MARE INCOGNITA/ COSTLINE - Application to respond to the challenges posed by Climate Change and coastal erosion in the tourism sector.

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Sustainable zoning (robust assessments of maximum carrying capacity of the natural and physical environment)
  • Sustainability measurements (measurements of the impact of mass tourism on the environment), certifications and labelling, in particular of ecotourism
  • Stress (high peak-high pressure) management (e.g., of waste, water, energy)
  • Big or smart data compiling tourism statistics
  • Adaptation to climate change

FAOS NPO/ STAFNOKARI - Creating a model for the revival of a traditional fishing method

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Diversification from the traditional activity
  • Co-management in spatially allocating areas within fishing grounds
  • Sustainability certifications, geographical designations, labelling and branding
  • Accessibility to an ageing and/or disabled population and attractiveness to younger people and families

GOZONE - Smart life Jacket in watersports

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Safety of boating

GEOPEDIA SCE - Excursions to coastal areas with experiential environmental education by scientists

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Islands connectivity, maritime routes and networking
  • Accessibility and attractiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

ECOQUEST ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTING/ MATCIS - Marine tourism and citizen science

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Quality and Management Plans for successful data governance
  • Big or smart data compiling tourism statistics
  • Islands connectivity, maritime routes and networking

BLUESPEAR-Application for networking and security in diving

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Accessibility of MPAs and implementation of sustainable use mechanisms including improved surveillance 

WINDWAVE - Offshore hybrid wind/wave power generation system

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Multi-functional platforms
  • Load balancing in insular Smart Microgrids

PLAN AHEAD - Method for the control and management of ships' biofouling *Non graduate

The challenges adressed by this business plan are the following:

  • Detecting and deterring marine hazardous substances: Bio tools and sensors for pollutants, toxins and pathogens