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The SMART BLUE regional co-operation project to promote the competitiveness of companies operating in the blue economy in the Macaronesia regions organised a professional conference on "Blue Growth in the Central Atlantic Economy" in Casa Africa, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, attended by representatives of economic institutions and companies from Cape Verde, Madeira, Azores and Canaries.

The conference was opened by the Minister of Economy, Industry, Trade and Knowledge of the Canary Island Government, Pedro Ortega, who highlighted the progress made and the synergies generated within the SMART BLUE Project. The project aims to reinforce co-operation in Macaronesia in the marine and maritime area and to drive an improvement in the competitiveness and international projection of business activity related to the blue economy of Madeira, Azores, Canaries and Cape Verde.

The Minister of the Economy declared that "the marine-maritime area, blue growth and the competitiveness of SMEs by leveraging a network of clusters represent a fundamental pillar in the economic and social growth of our Archipelago".

The opening ceremony was attended by the Director General of Casa Africa, Luis Padrón, and the Chairman of the Canary Island Maritime Cluster, Vicente Marrero. The ceremony also included the official signing of the Macaronesia Maritime Cluster Alliance.

The president of TMA, Michael Jones, made the opening presentation entitled “The Maritime Alliance (TMA) and the Blue Technology Cluster Alliance”, which was followed by three working sessions on Original Business Initiatives in the Central Atlantic Region, with a round table moderated by the chairman of the Regional Fund for Science and Technology of the Azores, Bruno Pacheco; The Blue Economy in the Central Atlantic Region, moderated by the manager of the Scientific Technological Area of PLOCAN, José Joaquín Hernández Brito; and Support Instruments to Foster Economic Activity in the Central Atlantic, moderated by the CEO of the Canary Island Economic Promotion Company PROEXCA, Pablo Martín-Carvajal.

In the session on the Blue Economy in the Central Atlantic Region, the president of the Marine Sciences Technology Centre, José Luis Guersi, presented the Annual Report on the Blue Economy in the Canary Islands 2018, and Miguel Marques, a consultant from PricewaterhouseCoopers Portugal, offered a vision of the sea and its international prospects from the Central Mid-Atlantic based on the key performance indicators generated by PWC, highlighting the geo-strategic importance of this region and its capacity for growth.

The presentations made during the SMART BLUE conference are available at http://smartblueproject.com. The SmartBlue Project is 85% co-funded with ERD funds through the Interreg-MAC Operating Programme 2014-2020.

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