ESPO Award 2015 Shortlisted Project: Valenciaport Foundation: The Knowledge Centre of the Leading Port Cluster in the Mediterranean
This year’s ESPO Award celebrates the role that ports can play in demonstrating the best strategies in making schools and universities aware of their local port and its activities. The five ports shortlisted for this year’s Award, Antwerp, Bremen, Dublin, Guadeloupe and Valencia all succeed in creating the interest of the local schools and universities in the work of the port.
ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects, before the winner is announced at a ceremony at the Albert Hall in Brussels on 10 November.
The Knowledge Centre of the Leading Port Cluster in the Mediterranean
Valenciaport Foundation (Spain)
ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2015! Could you briefly describe your project?
In 2004, the Port Authority of Valencia (PAV) set up the ‘Valenciaport Foundation’ project (VF) as a tool to bring together the port community, academia and civil society. It creates a support centre specialising in applied research and training to serve the port and logistics cluster, in order to enhance its competitiveness and boost its technical expertise. The port sector’s main associations and leading companies joined the initiative together with prestigious academic and economic organisations in Valencia, including the local public universities.
From the outset, the Foundation has provided intensive training courses to encourage the acquisition of knowledge and the dissemination of best practices, organised by experienced professionals and aimed at a wide target audience at local, national and international level. Our engagement with this project has been shaped through different types of training and cooperation, such as our own courses, internships in companies, projects, and joint initiatives with universities, schools and professional associations. In short, cooperation has been encouraged with any entity interested in increasing its knowledge of port activities, using all the means at our disposal.
In our opinion, the sustainability of human activities at a global level depends on the capacity of people to successfully combine economic development, social progress and protection of the environment. It is therefore crucial to ensure that current and future social and economic actors receive optimum learning, training and awareness. It has been demonstrated that the funds used to promote education and training are among the best ways to increase competitiveness. Cooperation with schools, universities and other centres of learning, which are responsible for the training of the future human capital of decision-making companies and institutions, is the most natural way to reach this goal. For several reasons, it is important to make these centres aware of the function of ports as tools that serve the economy. Firstly, it shows the key role ports play in international trade. Secondly, it present the career opportunities available to them and thus boosts the port industry’s appeal as a fertile terrain for professional development, and thus paves the way for attracting future qualified professionals to the sector. Finally, first-hand contact with ports makes students excellent opinion leaders in their social and family environments.
ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2015?
Winning the ESPO Award on societal integration would mean recognition of the PAV’s track record over the last 20 years not only in encouraging cooperation in training students from schools, universities and other centres of learning, but also in creating a welcoming academic environment to train future professionals for the port sector and the port community. All these efforts promote the integration with universities and businesses at a local, national and international level.
It would be an opportunity to increase the international visibility and outreach of the work of the PAV, the Valenciaport Foundation, the port community and our universities. Recognition of our efforts by an organisation that is held in high esteem by the international community would demonstrate that our engagement to the project is a valuable one and that it is worth maintaining and strengthening.
ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?
Winning the ESPO Award would be the ideal launch pad to showcase this project in a much broader international setting than the one we have reached until now. It would open the doors to international forums related not only to the port and shipping industry, but also to the development of projects in which public authorities interact with civil society and the academic world. In this way, these forums can act as a mouthpiece to explain the project, its implementation and development, the benefits it brings to the port and logistics cluster and its prospects for the future. Accordingly, this could become the seed of a forum to exchange similar experiences and to create a network to promote this type of initiatives.