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Seafuture 2021 proved again to be a model for innovative industrial excellencein Blue Economy.

| 2021

The 7th edition of Seafuture, the business convention of maritime and dual-use technologies – unique in the Mediterranean basin because it was built inside a naval base of the Navy – ended on October 1st, in the presence of the Undersecretary of State for Defense Senator Stefania Pucciarelli and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Navy Team Admiral Aurelio De Carolis.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Launch ceremony of Seafuture 2021 (Picture source: Navy Recognition)

In an exhibition area of 12.500 square meters, the excellence of the Blue Economy gathered for the event, with over 235 participating companies of which 20% exhibitors from all over the world, over 70 delegations from 5 continents for 2600 pre-organized B2B and B2G.

Key points were the interesting panels distributed simultaneously in two classrooms. From the challenges and opportunities in the Mediterranean and the perspective of the Italian Navy to the management of a marine ecosystem for blue growth and cyber resilience.

In the event frame, several ships were moored, including the training ship Amerigo Vespucci and the frigate Rizzo, used for the occasion as an alternative venue for events and moments of meeting between international partners and bilateral meetings, the latter being an element of high international connotation.

Among the events that identify the value of the week in La Spezia, there is the Sea Future Awards 2021, an award for graduates, Ph.D. students, and PhDs from the Italian academic world, both civil and military, who have presented theses related to the development of processes and products in the field of marine technologies.

Last but not least, the exclusive Navy Project “Tender to Nave Italia” –which takes its name from the homonymous brig armed with a schooner – was presented during the last day. The educational project carried out on board follows a proven method over time: adventure therapy. Nave Italia thus becomes the primary tool for creating rehabilitation programs aimed at notable young sailors with cognitive disabilities, sensory deficits, genetic diseases, mental and social discomfort in the various forms in which it manifests itself.

In thanking all the co-organizers, primarily the Navy, the sponsoring bodies, the sponsoring companies and the participants, the hope is to meet us at the eighth edition of Seafuture in 2023.

A few Q&A to Mrs. Cristiana Pagni, President of Italian Blue Growth Srl, Seafuture organizers

- The current edition of Seafuture (the 7th ed.) Is proving to be a real success; can you anticipate some numbers?
The numbers of Seafuture 2021 are all growing. The total of visitors has increased by 40% participating companies reached 230 (of which 20% international) on an exhibition area of 12,500. In addition, the sector operators took part in 2,600 pre-organized b2b and b2g events in which
they had the opportunity to find solutions to their questions. We are sincerely satisfied that this showcase has offered even more contacts to companies, and this gives us hope for the future employment of the marine sector, which remains the driving force in our country and our city.

- There have been disputes against the current edition, would you like to explain to our readers what are the real advantages that the event brings to the state coffers?
During the seven editions of Seafuture, my intention has always been to affirm the central role of Italy in Mediterranean policies and guarantee the development of our country by building a biennial showcase for companies and potential buyers to meet. For our territory, it means a boost for our companies in the marine maritime sector and immediate repercussions for everything related to conference tourism. First of all, events such as Seafuture provide us with the possibility of expanding our tourist offer, seasonally adjusting the arrival and departure flows, currently concentrated mainly during the summer months, to grow sectors related to conventions, (from communication to catering, from setting up to press, from logistics to hospitality) and to focus on a MORE sustainable offer, without forgetting the full house in hotels, restaurants and museums. Having said that, I have one more thing to add: I have always thought that Defense does not mean war but protection, safeguarding, and respect for our sea, our coasts, our economy.

- The presence of many authorities and representatives of foreign navies have consecrated SeaFuture as an undisputed international level event; tell us the truth are you already thinking about the next edition?
Now I would like to have time to rest for a few days. There are two years between us and the next edition and much work to do. However, it is undoubtedly true that the requests and satisfaction of the many exhibitors and the applause of the authorities and foreign navies encourage us to commit ourselves more and more to make the event grow and stabilize. Clearly, the work that awaits us will have to put the energies and strengths of all of us into a system, starting from the organization, from the partners of recent years, from local, regional, and central institutions. Only great teamwork will allow us to bring Italy first, Liguria and La Spezia, to the center of the Mediterranean.

- Seafuture represents a perfect combination between companies in the sector, the armed forces and beyond; is it a growth point also for our city which has always operated in symbiosis with the Navy?
Good question! This is a crucial point; many participating companies do not work in the Defense sector but have developed technologies that can be applied to the defense and civil sector. Many of the projects studied for the armed forces find further development in the civil industry; I am thinking of the biomedical industry, technical textiles, telecommunications, cyber security, and sanitizing against viruses and bacteria that anyone, not just the armed forces, needs.
Furthermore, the city of La Spezia and its Arsenal are an ideal geographical place for the history, tradition, and culture of the sea. Here small and medium-sized enterprises have developed that are part of the entrepreneurial fabric of the city and create a direct and indirect induction of great importance that supports the economy of our city.
As I mentioned before, this was the most significant edition, but also the most challenging in terms of organization, amidst cancellations and postponements, fears and difficulties. In the end, hopes won, fueled by so much tenacity and determination.
Italy starts running again, it does it before and better than many other countries. Also, and I would say above all, it runs in one sector, the Blue Economy, which is one of the cornerstones of its economy, from which employment, wealth and development have always derived.
In 2010, the Belgian economist Gunter Pauli gave concrete meaning to the term blue economy, demonstrating that it is possible to imagine a production and consumption model based on innovation, recovery and reuse of materials in synergy with the aquatic ecosystem through the enhancement of oceans, seas, rivers and coasts. With Seafuture, we want to reaffirm and support all of this. I will use the words of Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, "To be green, think blue."

- Given the impeccable organization, how long does it take to consolidate such an event? Also, given the global pandemic crisis what were the difficulties you have encountered?
First of all, I am satisfied that we have managed to fulfil Seafuture with these results coming from a devastating pandemic. My first thought, as I said in the opening of Seafuture, goes to the victims of Covid-19, their families and all those who, also indirectly, have suffered in these terrible years.
The organization of an event of this type is a machine that must be balanced in all its elements, where a willing and prepared team knows how to act and responds to the needs but also and more importantly to the organizational emergencies that, with so many guests from different countries, are really on the agenda.
The presence of the Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini at the inaugural ceremony, of President Toti, of Undersecretaries Mulè and Pucciarelli, of Alessandro Morelli, Deputy Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility, that of the Minister for Economic Development Giorgetti, at the awards ceremony, as well as of many other relevant offices of the State during the days of the convention, constitute the best testimony of the national and international level reached.

- Do Draghi's words on European investments meet Seafuture's philosophy?
President Draghi’s words are those of who has a vision of the future of our country and the future of Europe, are words of who manages to trace a path on these premises. Without misunderstandings, these are the words of a leader who intends to give the word 'Defense' the meaning of protection and guarantee of our freedoms and of our country, combining the objectives in terms of security with prevention, the protection of human rights, respect for rule of law. I believe that these are the matters a good premier should worry about.

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