Wednesday, June 19, 2024

EU Blue Champions unveiled: 20 companies will receive advisory support to grow their business

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Today, the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) unveiled 20 “EU Blue Champions” who will receive advisory support to grow their business. 

Originating from Croatia, Denmark, France Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Norway, these champions are involved in various sectors ranging from tidal and wind energy solutions to underwater robotics, satellite data applications, and biorefinery activities (the full list of winners is available below).

Innovative companies serving the ocean

Following an open call for proposal launched in 2023, 70 projects from the EU and from European Economic Area (EEA) countries submitted their applications for the newly created Blue Champions scheme.

All applications underwent rigorous evaluation by more than two dozen of sector experts and loan officers, who assessed whether the projects were

  • aligned with the EU Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters”
  • likely to be profitable
  • meeting the required quality standards
  • mature enough and displayed the type of technology required.

Each of the 20 EU Blue Champions awarded today meets these requirements. All companies are technologically and financially mature enough to scale up their business over the next two years. In addition, all of them are in line with the EU Mission on ocean and waters, meaning that they set out to either restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, prevent and eliminate pollution, or decarbonise the blue economy.

The winners will receive advisory support from the European Investment Bank Advisory Services and the European Investment Bank Projects Directorate for Innovation and Competitiveness. Some of the winners might also qualify for EIB venture debt, a type of loan designed specifically for early-stage, high-growth companies.

Identifying market gaps 

The EU Blue Champions scheme not only promotes and supports promising ocean innovation but also identifies market failures and gaps in forward-looking technologies across blue economy sectors, from green shipping to new ocean energy solutions.

The EIB conducted an extensive mapping of over 500 European blue economy companies. The findings will be compiled into a report, which will provide guidelines for the creation of new financial instruments that aim to address market gaps identified through the mapping exercise. The report will be published in the second half of the year.

Background 

The EU Blue Champions scheme was launched in September 2023 as a pilot scheme.  It involves the European Commission under the EU Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters and BlueInvest. It is carried out by the European Investment Bank (EIB Advisory Hub and the EIB Project Directorate Department). 

BlueInvest is a European Commission initiative, enabled by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF). It aims to improve access to finance and investment readiness for start-ups, early-stage businesses and SMEs active in the blue economy. It features an online community, investment readiness assistance for companies, pitching and matchmaking events, a knowledge centre, and a project pipeline. It also offers a dedicated capacity building track for investors guiding them to specialise their investment strategies into the blue economy and fuel the transition to impact investment. BlueInvest is underpinned by a €500 million dedicated risk-sharing financial instrument under InvestEU managed by the European Investment Fund.

Through its Advisory Services, the European Investment Bank Group makes available financial and technical expertise to project promoters and local authorities with a view to strengthen their project preparation, implementation, and to improve the efficient use of EU funds.

More information

List of winners

News on the launch of the ‘EU Blue Champions’ scheme in November 2023 

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