The conclusion of Europort 2013 on 8 November allowed business to take stock on how technology can address the key challenges that face the maritime and offshore industry. The event’s sharp focus on the core themes of technical innovation, cost efficiency, sustainability and human capital received intense scrutiny at 31 conferences, seminars and fringe events, including networking receptions and matchmaking opportunities.
Organiser Ahoy backed up its claim for Europort as ‘connecting the maritime world’ by logging attendance by 29,355 visitors from 84 countries, with trade missions present from China, Russia and Brazil, among others. With 1,062 exhibitor companies, Europort 2013 played host to a record number of 16 country pavilions.
Konstantine Markelov, Vice-Governor of the Astrakhan Region, Russian Federation, came seeking partners to develop regional shipbuilding. He reported a “huge number of fruitful meetings”. “We have already agreed with several partners to jointly realize projects in Astrakhan,” he said. “We would like to combine our efforts, to create a Russian-Dutch shipbuilding cluster in Astrakhan.”
A Future Pioneers Award provided a fitting finale on the closing day of Europort 2013, Friday 8 November in Rotterdam, as four students from the HZ University of Applied Sciences were recognised for engineering ingenuity that also offers environmentally-friendly solutions to the real world. The award went to “Hydrogen, LNG or Diesel? How to meet the new Marpol NOx Tier III requirements for a second-hand engine”.
The honour echoed sentiments expressed at Europort’s opening address by Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment of the Netherlands. Acknowledging a global shortage of seagoing and technical personnel, she said: “Human capital is our most important resource…We must do everything we can to attract talented young people.”
The desire for concerted action was also highlighted by full attendance at Europort 2013’s Advanced Technology Conferences. Leo Maas, of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research said: “A combined effort of science and the industry is needed to succeed in this growing market,” after his presentation “Ocean Dynamics in the Deep”.
Jannis Kostoulas, organiser of the Mare Forum Conference reported “interesting and intense” discussions between government representatives that included the European Commission and the US Coast Guard and a cross section of industry representatives. As well as thoughts on the future of shipping, technical innovation and the role of government, views aired included what Mr Kostoulas termed “the sense and nonsense of ecoships”.*
From the exhibition floor, Craig Carter, Director of Marketing of Canadian company Thordon Bearings noted the “international flavour” of Europort 2013. As a first time exhibitor, Mr Carter was “pleased but surprised” to see existing customers from Saudi Arabia and Canada in attendance.
Europort 2013 enabled the signing of a new worldwide distribution agreement between Aage Hempel Group and first-time exhibitor Promarine, of Finland. Promarine Managing Director Jani Järvinen cited the event’s “comprehensive representation of the entire maritime industry” as a factor.
GICAN coordinated participation from companies occupying the French Pavilion. Jean Pierre Carnet, GICAN Managing Director, said his organization had “brought to Europort some key players of the French industry displaying a high level know-how. We are particularly proud to have presented these competitive companies on the cutting edge of innovation.”
Volkmar Galke, MAN Diesel & Turbo Head of Promotion (Turbochargers) and Corrie de Gooij, Public Relations Manager Bakker Sliedrecht also noted the variety of visitors to their stands. “PR motives have definitely succeeded this year,” said Ms de Grooij. “Everyone in the maritime world is here in one place.”
Marcel Wandel, Rolls-Royce, Sales Professional said that one of Europort’s strongest points was the fact that “All the major competitors are in one location, so customers can compare the different products”.
Shipyard representatives of Blohm & Voss and Remontowa cited the Thursday evening as an excellent networking occasion with social gatherings taking place throughout the exhibition.
Europort 2013 Exhibition Manager Raymond Siliakus summed up: “It has certainly been a busy week, but it has also been rewarding to see the planning and effort put into Europort 2013 coming to fruition. We are already well underway with Europort Romania, Constanta in May (13-15) 2014, while Europort Istanbul will take place from 18 – 21 March 2015, but we also look forward to welcoming visitors to Europort 2015 (3-6 November) in our ‘home’ port of Rotterdam.”