The TECHLOG Project, Port Virtual Lab and the Green Deal
Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea
At the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport we are slowly approaching the end of a very busy period. With the Europea project YEP MED nearing its final days, the Escola’s signature course bookings gaining full steam ahead, the SIL conference at which not one, but two of our big projects were featured alongside our signature training offers, and more, we have had very short periods of respite. This is good news for us – a testament to the influence that we hold throughout the Mediterranean port community. But this quarter I wanted to share with you – our alumni community –a particularly special partnership that we have forged; one with the Port of Barcelona’s Innovation Foundation.
This past month, the Escola Europea has forged a strategic alliance with the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation, setting a firm commitment to propel the transformation of the maritime-port sector. The agreement highlights already existing innovative initiatives such as TECHLOG – a project co-funded by the European Union which will encourage joint Technology Transfer Initiatives (TTI) to achieve common quality standards for transport and port specialized staff within the participating ports and beyond – and Port Virtual Lab – a complete logistics virtual simulator that offers technological and educational tools through which international trade, logistics and transport students or professionals can simulate real life operations. Central to these efforts is the two parties’ dedication towards achieving the objectives of the European Union’s Green Deal, with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability that encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions.
Transforming the Maritime-Port Sector
The Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation, supported by prominent entities such as the Port of Barcelona, Ackcent, and Aggity, has set forth an ambitious mission to establish the maritime-port sector as a worldwide leader in innovation and operational excellence. Fuelled by their unwavering dedication, their primary objective revolves around transforming the Port of Barcelona into a dynamic Smart Hub, underpinned by the seamless integration of cutting-edge technological advancements and the fundamental principles of the Blue Economy.
And this is where we come in.
As an integral part of this endeavour, the Escola Europea actively participates in the TECHLOG project, which is co-financed by the ENI CBCMED programme. This initiative entails a series of activities directed towards training educators for the development of Living Labs.
“A Living Lab (LL) is an open-innovation ecosystem centered around user participation, situated within a public-private-people partnership. This unique model is rooted in a systematic user co-creation approach, seamlessly integrating research and innovation processes.”
The Escola Europea has been at the forefront of these labs in Livorno (Italy) for participants from the Western Mediterranean, and in Alexandria (Egypt) for participants from the Eastern Mediterranean – making sure that the knowledge is accessible by parties from across our shared Sea.
Most Mediterranean sectors suffer from poor connections between research, development and education, from one side, and, the real economy, from the other side – a situation that TECHLOG wants to address by strengthening ties between academia and the (trans)port industry. By encouraging joint Technology Transfer Initiatives (TTI) to achieve common quality standards for transport and port specialized staff, the goal is to create a Mediterranean Open Lab to promote and share those initiatives within the (trans)port communities. These TTI will be tested through pilot actions, in real port operators, and will involve trained staff.
The Port Virtual Lab
Moreover, the Escola Europea and the Foundation are collaborating on the development of Port Virtual Lab (PVL). This venture is an innovation laboratory where burgeoning technological solutions are explored and validated, creating a unique environment of collaboration and learning using simulators and simulated companies. Essentially, PVL is a training platform that allows performing operations related to logistics and international transport in our Virtual Port Community. Both professionals and students are be able to experience first hand activities related to international trade, while interacting with our simulated companies.
Success of Port Virtual Lab
The Escola has received numerous success stories following the launch of Port Virtual Lab and its incorporation in the courses developed under the European YEP MED programme, of which we are lead partners. The development of the European project encountered significant obstacles in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, and the experiential training courses planned for the initiative could no longer take place. This gave rise to the PVL platform. With an instrumental partnership from Click & Cargo, at the Escola we were able to create this amazing and comprehensive tool that would help us take the port operations and transactions directly to the monitors of our remote students. PVL was fundamental in maintaining continuity in education and student internships.
The platform’s power has been enhanced through its continuous usage and improvement processes. Today, companies expect students to have prior simulator training, which greatly speeds up their learning curve when they begin internships or enter the workforce directly. This demonstrates the practical value and effectiveness of the training provided by Port Virtual Lab, and shines a bright light on its future.
Commitment to Sustainability
Each project spearheaded by the Escola Europea underscores its unwavering commitment to holistic sustainability, embracing the realms of economic, social, and environmental well-being for us as global citizens. This profound dedication finds resonance with the ambitious targets outlined in the European Union’s Green Deal.
The Green Deal, proposed by the European Commission, is an audacious set of policy initiatives directed towards making Europe climate neutral by 2050. These initiatives not only focus on environmental preservation but also on revitalizing the economy and improving the quality of life for all citizens. By aligning our pursuits with those outlined in the initiatives, we are striving to ensure our contributions effectively drive towards a sustainable, resilient, and just Europe. Working together, the Escola and the Barcelona Port Foundation can work towards ensuring that Barcelona is at the vanguard of Europe’s efforts to bring around a sustainable Mediterranean.
The partnership between the Escola Europea and the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation is built upon the pillars of collaboration, sustainable development, knowledge, and innovation. Leveraging the Escola’s pioneering simulated business solutions and training methods, their expertise can be harnessed at every stage of the innovation process.
The strategic alliance between the Escola Europea and the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation plays a pivotal role in spearheading innovation, sustainability, and efficiency within the maritime-port sector, with a unique Mediterranean and Barcelona perspective. With a steadfast commitment to education, innovation, and the development of transformative solutions, we can contribute significantly to the transformation of the Port of Barcelona into a globally recognized Smart Hub.
You too can get involved!
Today, we must all accept that innovation is the fuel for building a new society that needs to confront substantial economic, environmental, and social challenges. Follow the activities that the Foundation and the Escola are doing and will do in the future. Engage in those where you can contribute.
Together, we are strong