The case of France - Blue Business Plan Competition

Read how the MISTRAL partner Pôle Mer Méditerranée organized the national competition of France.

The MISTRAL Blue Business Plan Competition aims to provide an effective support for business ideas in order to improve the innovation capacity of Blue Growth actors.

Pôle Mer Méditerranée was responsible of the Blue Business Plan Competition at the regional scale in France. 20 beneficiaries have been selected to be supported to develop their innovative idea through an acceleration program. PMM has chosen to restrict the Business Plan Competition to a specific Blue Growth sector:  coactivities with floating offshore wind turbines. Two regions were targeted: Sud Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and Occitanie regions.

This a topic of interest in the Mediterranean as a call for pilot floating wind farm projects was launched in 2015 by the French government. 3 favourable zones were identified for the development of floating wind power farms. 

These project zones are located along the coast of Leucate and Gruissan (Occitanie) and in the Gulf of Fos-sur-Mer (Sud Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Region). Floating Offshore Wind pilot projects are currently developed, between 10 and 20 kilometres from the coast and in water depths of around 70 meters. In each area, the project starts with a pilot configuration of 3 or 4 wind turbines, with strong economic benefits expected in terms of jobs created and energy production. The commissioning phase is scheduled in 2021-2022. The next phase would be for a commercial floating wind turbine farm configuration around 2030.

Coactivity refers to all associated or connected activities to floating offshore wind turbines. Several ideas of coactivities with floating wind turbines emerged during the exchanges and consultations carried out by the French government around the pilot wind turbines. Coactivity can be grouped in different categories: 

  • Aquaculture coactivities: the association aquaculture-wind turbines is already carried out on several sites, but solutions adapted to the local configuration of floating wind turbines and to the activity of professional fish farmers around pilot sites remain to be invented;
  • Professional fishing coactivities: the wind turbine infrastructure creates new environmental conditions for fish and opens up possibilities for adapting professional fishing practices;
  • Leisure/tourism activities: recreational fishing, diving and a form of industrial tourism can be developed around wind turbines.
  • Surveillance coactivities: offshore wind turbines require the deployment of surveillance and inspection services using drones for example.
  • Coactivities in favour of biodiversity and ecosystems: offshore wind turbines can provide a new habitat for marine fauna.

The support scheme lasted 2 months, from January 08th to March 04th 2020. As defined in the common methodology set up by ASTER, the program included the following activities:

  • Training days organised in group sessions;
  • Mentorship and consultancy, in individual sessions;
  • Videos of the several business ideas;
  • Local pitching event.

Phase 1: Ideation and pre-project workshop

On January 8, 2020, Pôle Mer Méditerranée organized a workshop at the Technopôle de l'Arbois in Aix-en-Provence on co-activities with floating offshore wind power.

The objective was to generate ideas for innovative projects addressing the challenges related to the following co-activities: fishing, aquaculture, maritime surveillance, tourism and leisure, protection of biodiversity.

The day brought together around twenty players from various backgrounds: energy companies, ecological engineering consultancies, representatives of professional and recreational fishermen, developers of solutions for maritime security, aquaculturists, and operators of IoT solutions. The morning, very dynamic, allowed everyone to express their ideas and solutions on the subject. The participants then divided into working groups in order to deepen their reflections around different projects such as for example: the pooling of monitoring resources, the creation of a mixed farming area around the wind farm or even the establishment of a marine observatory. A total of 6 projects were identified and the teams were formed.

Phase 2: Business plan training session

A half-a-day training session was organized remotely the 16th January 2020. The aim was to provide beneficiaries the key and important points for setting up a good project.

Several strategic elements were discussed, which are essential to properly prepare a project:

  • Project summary;
  • Team;
  • Business model canvas;
  • Development plan and roadmap;
  • SWOT analysis.

Based on the explanation provided, each group synthesized their project idea by completing a short document including all of the points below. This so called “pre-project file” can be used for instance to convince investors or financial partners of the relevancy and feasibility of the project.  It was also the base for the pitching session.

This training session was very dynamic. Each participant was able to exchange and received advices from external experts. At least one person of each project group received information and advices.

Phase 3: Individual working group coaching

This individual coaching phase consisted in following each group individually, and accompanying them in the drafting of their pre-project file. The coaching included exchanges by email, monitoring of the work advancement and calls to be sure beneficiaries don’t have misunderstanding. The expert team was available to answer questions individually and provide direct assistance for the preparation of the business plans.


Phase 4: Pitch training and Pitch session

Organised on March, 4, 2020, in Montpellier, a morning session was dedicated to a pitch training workshop. Different key points were provided by the expert team, concerning the form, some advices allow the speaker to be listened by the audience:

  • The voice comes from the lung to add some depth to it;
  • The prosody enhances the audience attentiveness;
  • The rhythm is important to stress on specific points;
  • The authenticity of the speakers eases public speaking.

Concerning the content, a structure for the pitch was presented:

  • Why: the main point;
  • What: the solution;
  • How: operational action plan;
  • How much: the results.

Each group took the time to finalise its presentation material and had the opportunity to benefit from individualized advice from the experts, in order to be ready for their pitch presentation in the afternoon.

The pitch session was organised in the afternoon in which 33 participants attended. The audience was composed of high level participants: several companies specialised into floating offshore wind (Quadran Energies Marines, Eolfi), a power grid operator (RTE), regional authorities (DIRM MED and PREMAR).

Each project group had 6 minutes to presents its concept in front the audience and around 10 minutes to answer questions and feed the debate. All presentations were recorded. 

Overview of the 6 projects

THON (Aquaculture)

Creation of mixed cultivation. The project consists of making a prototype of a buoy, adapting it to the specific objectives of aquaculture farming with today's materials and technologies (Anchored cages arranged around the buoy; Feed storage silo; Diving and work housing space; Small equipped laboratory; Land base (packaging, feed storage).

3FOUXP (Safety monitoring)

Creation of a single platform for aggregating or sharing data and information on systems and supersystems for the benefit of all stakeholders in relation with floating offshore wind turbines. The purpose of 3FOUXP project is to provide a platform for aggregating and sharing data related to the status and operation of wind turbines; the natural environment; and the activities of stakeholders in and around wind farms.

BIOGEN (Biodiversity)

Use of offshore wind farms as an offshore reserve for the restoration of marine resources: studies on sanctuarisation, fish concentration effect and biomass. 

COPECHE (Fishing)

Make wind farms experimental areas for professional and recreational fishing. The challenge is to move towards a cohabitation and/or interaction between fishing and floating wind turbines.

OGM (Biodiversity)

Creation of a professional and research observatory to improve and increase knowledge of the marine environment (provide data sets - process, value and disseminate information - monitor environmental impacts).

EOLVIE (Biodiversity)

Use of this space at sea for the development of biodiversity. Wind turbines are a solution for importing ecosystems: selection and monitoring of colonising species on the structure of wind turbines.