Blue Cluster was established at the end of 2017 as a partnership for the development and promotion of economic activities linked to the sea. Over 180 enthusiastic companies and knowledge institutions have joined since then.
History icon


Click on the years below to learn more about Blue Cluster's history, or check out the timeline at the bottom of this page.


At the end of 2017, Colruyt, DEME, Econopolis, INVE, Jan De Nul, Sioen Industries, Tractebel Engineering, Vanbreda Risk & Benefits, Vyncke and ZERI founded the non-profit  organisation under Belgian law Blue Cluster. The objective was to establish improved, cross-sectoral partnerships and closer cooperation between knowledge centres and government agencies so as to encourage new investments and undertake innovative projects in the Belgian part of the North Sea and beyond.


In early 2018, an application was submitted for recognition as a spearhead cluster. This recognition was granted on a conditional basis in March 2018.

In February, Caroline Ven became the CEO of Blue Cluster. Under her leadership, the partnership experienced strong growth. 

In June, Blue Cluster was officially launched with an opening event. This event was attended by numerous prominent figures.

In September, Flanders' Maritime Cluster was integrated into Blue Cluster. This was an important step towards the final recognition as a spearhead cluster.

In November, Blue Cluster launched its very first call for project proposals to be submitted by companies.

At the end of 2018, the Blue Cluster team consisted of eight staff members. Another two employees were seconded.


In February, the cluster pact was signed. Since then, Blue Cluster has been a fully-fledged spearhead cluster in the Flemish innovation landscape.

In March, Blue Cluster and the Belgian Offshore Cluster concluded a strategic partnership. This marked the beginning of a fruitful cooperation.

In April, Blue Cluster made its first international foray by taking part in a mission to Taiwan. 

In July, representatives of our members and partners learned a great deal about the coast during the first edition of the Coastal Scan.

In November, we organised the Coastal Marine Tour and took care of the very first Oceans programme of G-STIC.


In July, the second edition of the Coastal Scan took place. Due to the coronavirus crisis, no external parties could participate in this event.

On 1 October, Caroline Ven handed over the reins to Marc Nuytemans, and a new chapter in the story of Blue Cluster began.

At the end of October, Blue Cluster presented the Blue Innovation Awards for the very first time. These awards are intended to highlight promising innovative projects in the blue economy.


In May, Blue Cluster launched a white paper on ecosystem approach. This document outlines the concept of an ecosystem approach performance wheel.

In late August, Blue Cluster signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Business Network for Offshore Wind, a major American organisation in the offshore wind industry. 

In September, the first edition of the Blue Economy Science Summit took place. This event brings together marine scientists and companies in the blue economy. 

In early October, Blue Cluster participated in a thematic drone event during Technofest, the Belgian navy's technology weekend.

In late Octonner, the Blue Innovation Awards 2021 were awarded during the World Expo in Dubai within the scope of G-STIC. This event took place simultaneously with the first Blue Innovation Party in Antwerp.

In November,  Blue Cluster signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Basque Energy Cluster, one of our partners in the ELBE Alliance, and entered into a structural partnership with Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)


In May, Blue Cluster and VLIZ launched the second edition of the Blue Economy Science Summit (BESS). The central topic of the event was stakeholder engagement.

The Blue Night, Blue Cluster's first large-scale networking event since the outbreak of the corona crisis, took place in August. 

The Blue Innovation Awards 2022 were presented at het Havenhuis in Antwerp in mid-December during the Blue Innovation Party.


In January, Blue Cluster coordinated the Oceans programme at G-STIC Rio. The central topics were carbon accounting and the future of negative emission technologies.

In early March, Blue Cluster published a manual for the use of sensors in aquaculture systems. The document is intended to help (start-up) companies who want to digitise their cultivation system.

In the course of May, Marc Nuytemans announced his resignation as CEO of Blue Cluster. On 1 June, Piet Opstaele took over the helm. On the same day, Blue Cluster celebrated its five-year anniversary during Ostend at Anchor. 

From 1 to 4 June, Blue Cluster organised its very first Blue Innovation Village during Ostend at Anchor. The aim of this village is to present innovations in the blue economy to a broad audience. 

openingsevent blauwe cluster

Always stay informed! Subscribe to our newsletter: 

Please note that our newsletter is in Dutch only.