Under the scope of the AETS-managed project, “Set up and Elaboration of an Assistance Mechanism for the Atlantic Sea Basin”, the AETS consortium organised the 5th Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference which took place in Vigo, Spain, from the 23-24th October 2018.

The two-day conference drew roughly 250 participants involved in various maritime affairs within the Atlantic, both from the public and private sector. The agenda, which was loaded with interesting maritime topics, kicked off with addresses by representatives of local authorities: the president of the port of Vigo, the mayor of Vigo, and the president of the Autonomous Community of Galicia.

An award ceremony was organized on the first day which recognised 6 exceptional projects, from six distinctive areas, that fall in line with the Atlantic Strategy's priorities and action plan. The 6 areas encompassed by the awards were: entrepreneurship and innovation; Atlantic marine and coastal environment; accessibility and connectivity; sustainability; international cooperation; and a special award. 

The award ceremony was followed by plenary sessions on ‘Blue Jobs of the Future' and ‘Blue Invest in the Atlantic', the latter featuring entrepreneurs who have novel ideas for boosting innovation in the blue economy pitching their projects in front of a jury of professional investors. Finally, the afternoon was dedicated to a B2B match-making event bringing together managers of maritime businesses, entrepreneurs and a community of related professionals looking for partners to advance their projects.

Day two provided information on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) post-2020, and presented a session dedicated to the contribution of the Atlantic Area Programme to the Atlantic Action Plan, including presentations of good investment practices in the blue economy in terms of skills, employment and innovation.

To conclude the conference, two rounds of parallel workshops were organised, allowing stakeholders to delve deeper into topics of interest and discuss with entities involved in projects throughout the Atlantic area.

The next annual conference will take place in Portugal and will, once again, bring together stakeholders to advance on the Atlantic Action Plan.