Interview with Dr. Kazimierz Szefler – Director of the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk

MIG is proud of its applied research dedicated to Polish maritime economy, which it has been carrying out for almost 70 years. In your opinion, what is the most spectacular venture you have been involved in?

All of the projects we have been conducting are spectacular! We have been engaged in assessing wind potential in marine areas, we have discovered many shipwrecks on the sea floor and we have been pioneers in maritime spatial planning in Poland. Working for both the national authorities and private investors, we have had the privilege of being constantly at the centre of Poland’s maritime economy. We are especially glad that some of our ideas have turned out to be such successful undertakings as the SUBMARINER Network for Blue Growth EEIG, of which we are actually the originator and co-founder. The Network has developed from being a small transnational cooperation project to becoming an efficient and well-recognised initiative inspiring and attracting many innovative actors in the Baltic Sea Region.

The Institute is also active in setting regional and national innovation policy. Do you benefit from this policy?

Yes, we are active, because, as I said, innovations and applied research in maritime economy is our mission. Pomorskie has always been and will remain a region based on the maritime economy, hence it is obvious to me that the development of offshore technologies and ports has become one of the smart specialisations of the region. Ms. Joanna Przedrzymirska represents the Institute on two important committees related to smart specialisations: the Council of Pomorskie’s “blue specialisation” and the working group of the national maritime specialisation.

 

Regardless of the doubts that arise from the implementation of the concept of smart specialisation (e.g. the lack of actual prioritisation, as it is difficult to expect that in a country like Poland we will have 48 market niches on which one can build economic advantage), at the Institute we have directly felt the positive effects of strategy implementation: we have successfully applied for funds for the construction of the Offshore Centre, which will be operational in 2020.

In my opinion, the policy has also been undermined by the consolidation of the scientific community of the coastal regions: the consortium of the National Centre for Baltic Research (inscribed on the Polish Roadmap for Research Infrastructures) has grown from 5 to 11 partners. Of course, the Institute has been in this consortium from the very beginning.

What do you see as the most important challenge for maritime research and innovation after 2020?

To my mind, there is a need for a clear and goal-driven research agenda. This agenda should be developed not only by scientists but also by representatives from maritime sectors that are in need of research and innovation. The 21st century should be a century of real applied science, in which business is not afraid to ask for reliable in situ measurements and interpretations of the various data we gather nowadays. This means a huge demand for advanced technologies for sea investigations but also a demand for a holistic (interdisciplinary) approach to data interpretation as well as open-minded forward thinking. Our Institute is ready to face this challenge, and we want to work hand-in-hand with business.

 

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Maritime Institute in Gdansk