Marathon on the seafront

120 students developed ideas and projects over a 24-hour period at Innovathon for a more sustainable sea economy. The winners will participate at an international event scheduled for next year at the United Nations Oceans Conference, to be held in Lisbon

It´s early evening, but the sun is still relentless. There are 21 hours to go till the end of Innovathon. With the clock ticking, the ten teams are discussing ideas under a canvas tent installed on Carcavelos Beach, where they will work, sleep and eat until the end of the event. In all, there are 120 students from 18 universities with a wide range of profiles. These include engineers, doctors, geologists... all of whom have a common goal: to develop sustainable solutions for the sea economy.

“We decided to address the issue of aquaculture”, explains Erica Godinho, a 29-year-old geologist and leader of one of the two Galp teams. “We want to develop a self-sustainable system with no need for human intervention, with low maintenance costs and its own energy source, making use of the power of the waves”, she explained to Energiser. “This offshore fishing method still involves a number of problems, due to the costs, the sensitivity of the species and microplastics.”

Organised by CEiiA and the United Nations Global Compact on the challenges associated with the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, based on which new products and services are developed for the sustainability of the planet, Innovathon was above all an event for gathering knowledge and sharing ideas, on the eve of a symbolic date: World Ocean Day, celebrated on 08 June.

Present at the opening ceremony, Ana Paula Vitorino, Minister of the Sea, reminded us that “we never start from scratch” and emphasised the decisive importance of disclosing the message. “You have to invent solutions to do something disruptive. When we think about fires, it´s easy to associate a message to preserve our forests. And what do we do with regard to the sea that sustains us? We have to associate a different image, in which we are working on both the present and the future. And that can only be done with your help.”

The key to the future lies in the oceans. And it was based on this premise that the “innovationists”, five students from the Higher Technical Institute, became the great winners of the event. “The problem we have decided to deal with is the eight million tons of plastic that end up in the ocean every year. We propose reducing the amount of plastic in the oceans by promoting sustainable consumption. How? By means of an application providing an integrated system from purchase to monitoring, in addition to incentivising and promoting sustainable consumption.”