Horizon Impact Award 2019: UNIBO-led SMART-COASTS among the awarded projects

SMART-COASTS is one of the four award-winners of the UE commission prize for EU-funded projects that have created significant societal impact across Europe and beyond.

SMART-COASTS, a project coordinated by professor Barbara Zanuttigh of the University of Bologna, is one of the four winners of the Horizon Impact Award 2019, which is given by the European commission to relevant research projects significantly impacting on society in Europe and all-over the world.

SMART-COASTS presented the results reached by the FP7 THESEUS project, which identified some innovative solutions aimed at safeguarding coastal areas from erosion, floods and climate change effects.

An independent jury selected the four winners, which were announced in Bruxelles during the Research & Innovation Days. EU Commission Research and Innovation director general Jean-Eric Paquet took part in the awarding ceremony. The other awarded projects were: CRYSP-TLS (France) which defined a digital safety protocol; MANNO-CURE (Germany), which produced the first treatment for alpah-mannosidosis; and SAFE (UK) which developed a chid-abuse prevention programme. Every winner will receive 10,000€.

The holistic and human-centred approach promoted by THESEUS allowed for the definition of effective strategies and practices aimed at increasing coasts resilience, preserving their feeble ecosystems and sustainably employing their resources. 

Since the end of the project in 2013, the outcomes have been successfully applied to the coastal areas involved in the project as well as to other areas. Moreover, the technologies employed were further tested and made more effective, eventually raising interest among institutions and industries. Over the years, THESEUS practices and guidelines have spread from researchers to coastal areas managers and industries.

“Now we have to reach a wider audience”, stated professor Zanuttigh during the award ceremony. Professor Zanuttigh works at the Department of Civil, Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Bologna. She added, “when we started with THESEUS, the majority of people were sceptical about climate change. Nowadays, we need to be responsible and aware in facing climate change, and we need to be actively involved as individuals and cooperate as groups. Greta Thunberg showed us the way, essentially demonstrating the importance of effective communication”.

Indeed, effectiveness of communication is the focus of the project’s future actions. “We will invest the money we won with this award – said Barbara Zanuttigh – to set up an Instagram profile inviting European Citizens to share their pictures which describe coastal areas at risk, climate change effects and solutions to fight these phenomena. We hope that many people will participate and make their contribution to this challenge”.

Published on: 01 October 2019