Launch projects and ideas, bring together talented professionals and entrepreneurs in a unique environment. These are the objectives of the Emerge Association , located in the Canary Islands but with a global vocation , dedicated to the field of startups with innovative business ideas that intend to change a bit the world with its solutions and seeking funds to take the project forward.
Today we spoke with Darío Sosa, Subsea Mechatronics a micropyme made of four employees, which developed, regardless others projects and products , an underwater vehicle for dredge in a more sustainable way. Its objective is to become the world reference company in its niche of “light dredging”.
Darío is an industrial engineer graduated from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) . He completed his doctoral thesis in the field of Medical Imaging with a stay at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. He also completed an Expert Degree in Technology Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio during that stay in the USA. After completing the thesis , he entered the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) as a mechanical engineer. Later on, another opportunity for work in another sector came, marine, so he reached the Canary Islands Oceanic Platform (PLOCAN), maintaining the focus of research and development. Since 2013, he continues developping his passion for I+D from the private initiative .
Marine Park is one of the spaces managed by the Emerge Association, but can you explain what exactly it consists of?
Marine Park is one of the brands of the Emerge Association, and it is dedicated to marine startups. It is a collaborative space for the development of marine innovation projects. We don’t like to see ourselves as a coworking, due to we are not only the “continent”. We are a vibrant and passionate community that challenges and constantly explores the boundaries of marine technology and research I+D+i disruptive business opportunities to boost ourselves to the global market, from the Canary Islands.
What tools do they have to carry out this work?
One of our main tools , which has also supported all our work , is the ProtoAtlantic Project , whose main objective is to develop and validate a model for the prototyping and exploitation of innovative ideas within the Atlantic area.
The project , setted up from Marine Park, is led , also from the Canary Islands , by the Innovalia Association , travel and strategic partner of the Emerge Association to achieve its objectives.
ProtoAtlantic brings together different actors from the European Atlantic area starting from the basis of the co- working spaces specialized in the marine field : Marine Park , in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and The Entrepreneur Ship , in Cork . These two spaces, managed respectively by the Emerge Association and the University College of Cork (Ireland), joining them the rest of the partners: EMEC (European Marine Energy Center) in Scotland, Technopole Brest Iroise in France, INESC-TEC in Portugal and Cork County Council also in Ireland.
Emerge is responsible at ProtoAtlantic for launching an accelerator of companies and projects in its phases of prototyping and testing in the marine areas of robotics, renewable energies and biotechnology in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria .
How is the relationship with the Port of Las Palmas?
The relationship with the Port is growing up. In other places, such as the Port of Rotterdam, they have an accelerator called Port XL that does the same thing that we started to do. Our objective is to seek more interaction with the amazing companies that operate in the port itself, understand their I+D needs and generate greater complicity and confidence to develop projects togheter that can solve their needs and, at the same time, sell the solutions to other companies and ports in the world, as they do in Rotterdam. To create new technology – based companies on this way is our leitmotiv, and a perfectly symbiotic relationship between big companies that meet their unmet needs and, technological entrepreneurs and startups that identify a potential market for technology or solution. We are hearing a lot about industry 4.0 or smart shipyards and it is just these startups or small innovative companies that have the agility and flexibility to bet on those challenges that port companies have, such as the adoption of additive manufacturing in workshops and shipyards or the traceability of parts and components of vessels during their life cycle . Finally, the Emerge Association and Marine Park are trying to be be the link between the port companies and entrepreneurs with the drive and the agility to solve the challenges identified.
Taking into account this philosophy of knowledge transfer and search for innovative ideas, I suppose that the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will be another important travel companion. Is it like that?
Of course! What we are doing is that survey, not only the ULPGC, but from other universities and research centers as PLOCAN in the Canary Islands and others from outside, to identify and be the vehicle for technology transfers which can work in the marine environment, in general and in particular port. At the same time, this helps to make the transfer from the University and research centers, giving to the researchers a complementary human team and resources to bring its technology to the market..
What role does the Emerge Association play within the organization of the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit?
We offer support to the organization of the congress, especially in the sessions of Shipyards and Smart Ports, offering the perspective of these startups of which we have spoken at the time of resolving the challenges that arise in the operation of the ports and the business fabric that surrounds it , both locally and internationally .
What does it mean for the Canary Islands to host an event of these characteristics?
It is visibility in both directions: visibility when promoting ourselves abroad but also involves reflection on the issues burning around the ports such as renewable energy, industry 4.0, reducing emissions, etc. It is seen, on the one hand, what we have here or what we can develope in certain areas, and on the other hand, to bring here people, businesses and institutions recognized in those areas that transmit their success stories such areas to learn from their experience.
How will the implementation of Industry 4.0 in the Canaries?
It is a key factor in our development and competitiveness . Innovation doesn’t happen spontaneously, but rather the tools must be put in place to make it happen. In other countries, like UK, they have developed initiatives such as the Catapult program, which brings together universities and companies in development niches with manufacturing tools and resources and prototyping for the development of ideas in those fields.
Similarly in Spain, there are centers such as the CFAA (Center for Advanced Aeronautical Manufacturing) in the Basque Country, or the CFA Center for Advanced Aeronautical and Naval Manufacturing of Cádiz . If we want to be competitive in the Canary Islands and especially in the naval sector, we must develop similar initiatives adapted to our reality and areas of expertise. From Emerge, and with other institutions such as the Puertos Foundation, we are working in this line.