For our next MIIN Member Spotlight, we have BlueWise Marine. BlueWise Marine, based in Galway City, specialises in providing infrastructure, project, marketing and funding support services for marine and offshore renewable energy projects and initiatives. They work with government, industry and academic clients, in partnership with local communities. John Breslin, BlueWise Marine’s Managing Director, tells us about BlueWise Marine in his own words and what his vision is for the company and the marine industry in general.
Photo: John Breslin, BlueWise Marine’s Managing Director, in Galway Bay
Introduce yourself and the organisation? What is your role? What is your focus area?
For over 25 years I have been managing a variety of marine and maritime infrastructures and projects involving Vessels, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), Marine & Environmental Surveys and a National Test Site known as SmartBay. Currently, I am the Managing Director at BlueWise Marine. Our organisation, formerly known as SmartBay Ireland, was establised in 2012 to establish, manage and promote a National Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site for helping innovators to develop new marine technologies through deployments in real-sea conditions in Galway Bay. Since then, we have privatised and become a High Potential Start-Up client company of Enterprise Ireland and are developing new services and solutions for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) industry. At BlueWise Marine, we aim to be “The partner of choice in the global blue economy, building a better future”. Our fantastic team of scientists, engineers and communications and marketing professionals are focused on supporting companies to develop Offshore Wind, Floating Wind, Wave, Tidal and Floating Solar projects.
Photo: John Breslin, BlueWise Marine’s Managing Director, outside their offices at the iHub in GMIT
Tell us more about BlueWise Marine. Where is it located? What do you do?
We are very fortunate to be located in Galway City at the new iHub facility on the Galway–Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) campus which provides us with access to a wider innovation ecosystem within GMIT.
Our team at BlueWise Marine specialises in providing infrastructure, project, marketing and funding support services for marine and offshore renewable energy projects and initiatives. We work with government, industry and academic clients, in partnership with local communities. Our end-to-end approach to service delivery allows our clients to focus on their core business, safe in the knowledge that our team will manage their assets and projects to the highest standards, in a safe, efficient, social and environmentally conscious manner.
What is your organisation’s unique selling point (USP)?
We have been working in the marine industry in Ireland since 2012, under the company name SmartBay Ireland. Many readers will know the company from its role in establishing, managing and promoting the SmartBay Test Site in Galway. Our USP is our established reputation and experience in providing specialised marine, environmental, community engagement, communications, HSEQ, and proposal writing and funding supports. We have access to an extensive National and International network within the R&D and offshore renewables sectors and have worked alongside government agencies, academia and industry.
Are you developing a new product/innovation?
Yes, we are currently collaborating with academic and industry partners to develop an innovative solution using autonomous technologies for bird and mammal surveys. We are progressing from proof-of-concept to commercial demonstration. Watch this space!
We are also developing a science-based approach to deliver baseline surveys of finfish and shellfish in the vicinity of planned offshore wind farms and export cable routes, to better understand and assess possible impacts.
Photo: John Breslin, BlueWise Marine’s Managing Director, with Karen Weekes of #SheCanDo
What motivates you in your role with BlueWise Marine?
Since I was a young lad, I was fascinated by all things marine and loved reading books and watching documentaries on marine life, which is unusual given the fact that I grew up in the midlands with not even a river or lake in sight! I spent many summers fishing with my Dad for bass and lobster off St. Helens, near Rosslare, which gave me a real appreciation for the sea. After finishing my studies in Marine and Fisheries Biology in Aberdeen, I had the good fortune and pleasure of working with the late John Molloy at the Fisheries Research Centre, which later became part of the Marine Institute, on a project to map Ireland’s herring spawning grounds. This project required me to work onboard fishing boats and research vessels to locate the elusive spawning beds for this species. For over 25 years, I have worked in the marine and maritime sectors managing a variety of infrastructures and projects. I am passionate about the potential of the Blue Economy in Ireland and the role Ireland’s abundant offshore wind and wave resources can play in allowing us to decarbonise our energy, heat and transport systems – an absolute must for achieving our Net Zero emissions target by 2050. Given the scale of our offshore wind and wave resources, some of the best in Europe and the World, Ireland has the potential to export surplus energy in the form of electricity, or in time “green” hydrogen, generated from renewable energy sources. In addition to the technical and operational challenges this presents, harnessing these resources must be achieved in cooperation with coastal communities while protecting the marine environment. No mean feat, and the fact that BlueWise Marine can play a part in this, for me, is truly exciting.
What is your vision for the marine industry in Ireland over the next 10 years?
A vibrant marine ecosystem where R&D is supported and new talents and innovations are nurtured to support indigenous SMEs to scale and diversifies to support future Offshore Renewable Energy developments along our coasts. The opportunities for Irish companies to innovate in this space are many, particularly as offshore wind developments move further offshore. This move into deeper waters will require us to develop innovative solutions for monitoring and maintenance which will rely on a combination of autonomy, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Ireland’s marine industry in the coming years (5-10 years)?
Ireland’s location at the edge of the Northeast Atlantic means we can benefit from the huge offshore renewable energy resource on our doorstep. Developing this in a sustainable manner is going to be key in supporting Ireland’s clean energy transition. The Irish government has highlighted this as a key task in supporting Ireland’s transition to net zero by 2050. Ireland’s marine companies will have a lot of opportunities to pivot their business to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry. There are some great examples already of where Irish companies have done this. BlueWise Marine is one of those companies and we are ready and willing to support the new wave of offshore renewable energy developments in Ireland. We have an opportunity to decarbonise our electricity system, reduce our CO2 emissions and develop a new industry based on the harnessing of our indigenous wind, wave and tidal resources which will never run out, so long as the winds continue to blow. What an opportunity for Ireland, given the scale of the resources that lie offshore, ready to be harnessed. Our offshore wind and wave resources dwarf our Oil and Gas reserves and are a far cleaner way to help Ireland decarbonise, it’s a no brainer really.
What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, facing businesses in the marine industry in 2021?
To make sure Irish companies are brought along and supported to be part of this offshore opportunity. Local Irish companies such as our own are scaling up, innovating and diversifying to offer products and services to support the development of offshore renewable energy projects in Ireland. Local content is really important for the marine industry as it will ensure job creation and support from coastal communities. Attracting investment into rural areas in a way that benefits local communities is vital.
What international markets are you interested in?
UK and Europe mostly. We have been involved in many European funded projects and would like to continue to develop collaborations and synergies with UK and European companies and clients. We are developing new services with our academic partners which allow us to offer science-based environmental services relying on novel methodologies and technologies. Recently, we have become a High Potential Start Up client of Enterprise Ireland which is really exciting.
What’s one thing you’d like to share with the network?
Our new website is live, check it out at www.bluewisemarine.ie.
Where can we find more information about you and BlueWise Marine?