A group of enthusiastic Flemish trainee diplomats recently embarked on a captivating journey to delve into the realm of the blue economy and research in the coastal city of Ostend. The visit, organized to provide an inspiring and informative experience, proved to be a resounding success.
The adventure commenced at the Ostend Science Park, where the aspiring diplomats were welcomed with open arms by Pieter Embo, setting the tone for an eventful day ahead. The program featured a series of engaging sessions led by industry experts, shedding light on innovative initiatives in the region.
Ira Lardinois, from POM West-Vlaanderen, shared valuable insights on the “Factories of the Future Blue Energy” project. Attendees were captivated by the sustainable innovation efforts taking place in (West) Flanders. Ann Overmeire, representing the esteemed Blue Cluster (De Blauwe Cluster) nonprofit organization, took the stage next, highlighting the progressive initiatives driving the blue economy. The trainee diplomats were left fascinated by the advancements and developments unfolding right before their eyes.
The excitement continued as Ruth Teerlynck unveiled a sneak preview of the forthcoming digital training lab at Bluebridge. This state-of-the-art facility offered the attendees an opportunity to experience cutting-edge technologies and simulations employed in the maritime industry. The trainees eagerly embraced the chance to immerse themselves in the future of marine technology.
Eager to delve deeper into the world of maritime research, the group embarked on a short stroll to Flanders Maritime Laboratory. Maximilian Streicher and Steven Kaptein expertly guided the diplomats through the Coastal & Ocean Basin Ostend and the towing tank (Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium) respectively. These immersive experiences showcased the dedication and expertise behind maritime research and its pivotal role in shaping the industry’s future.
Afterwards, the group embarked on a transfer to De Cierk, where they enjoyed a delicious meal before embarking on an enthralling blue economy walk. Led by Veerle Willaert and Rebecca Verhaeghe, the diplomats explored the scenic coastline, passing by notable landmarks such as Otary and C-power. The journey culminated at the Blue Accelerator and the Ostend Marine Station, where the participants witnessed firsthand the passion and innovation fueling the blue economy.
The expedition continued at the Marine Robotics Centre, where Ann-Katrien Lescrauwaet provided an intriguing glimpse into the future of maritime exploration and technology. The diplomats were captivated by the possibilities that lie ahead, as cutting-edge robotics and advancements continue to redefine the industry.
The final stop on this enlightening journey was the Innovocean Campus of VLIZ – Flanders Marine Institute, where the IOD Project office awaited the group. This visit allowed the trainee diplomats to witness the remarkable projects and initiatives shaping the marine landscape. The day concluded on the sixth floor, with a panoramic view of the bustling harbor area, as the attendees savored a cup of coffee, reflecting on the day’s experiences.
The success of this insightful and inspiring visit was made possible by the collaboration of various partners and experts. The organizers express their sincere gratitude to all those involved for contributing to the realization of this captivating event.
As the trainee diplomats bid farewell to Ostend, they depart on their future missions with a renewed sense of purpose and a deep appreciation for the blue economy.