The 19th International Maritime Exhibition and Conference – BALTEXPO 2017 – was held on 11-13 September 2017 in Gdańsk, at the AMBEREXPO Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The official opening of the Baltexpo maritime exhibition enjoyed strong interest from the many guests there, who were welcomed by Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation Marek Gróbarczyk together with Piotr Soyka, a member of the Presidential National Development Council and chairman of the board at Remontowa Holding S.A., who read out greetings to the guests and organizers of BALTEXPO 2017 on behalf of Polish President Andrzej Duda. Words of welcome were also offered by Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk, who chairs the Sejm Maritime Economy and Inland Water Transport Committee, and Mieczysław Struk, Pomorskie Province Marshal. The official opening of the BALTEXPO 2017 International Maritime Exhibition also became an opportunity for international dialogue and new economic alliances. On 11 September at the BALTEXPO 2017 International Maritime Exhibition, a memorandum on cooperation was signed between Qatar and Port Gdańsk S.A., envisaging an alliance between the port of Gdańsk and a capital group of Qatari ports. The signatory on behalf of the Qatari party was Ports Management CEO Capt. Abdullah Al-Khanji. The documents signed provide for the organization of regular meetings of a working group, enabling ports to share their knowledge and experience.

The BALTEXPO opening ceremony also included the presentation of the Golden Anchor awards, which have been a part of the event for over 20 years. The BALTEXPO Golden Anchor awards in the Product, Service and Maritime Economy Personality of the Year categories are granted by a competition committee composed of maritime economy and shipbuilding industry experts.

BALTEXPO 2017 Golden Anchors were granted as follows: for best product – to Remontowa Shipbuilding for a series of three advanced ferries with dual-fuel propulsion; for best service – to DNV GL Poland for drone inspections; for the first time, a special mention was awarded in the product category – to the Gdańsk University of Technology’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering for their UUV/AUV Stealth-type dual-purpose underwater vehicle.

This year the committee decided to reward Zbigniew Sulatycki, Master Mariner, Eng., by granting him the title of Maritime Economy Personality of the Year in appreciation of his contribution to the sector’s development.

The ceremony welcoming official guests, exhibitors and visitors to BALTEXPO 2017 was followed by a debate on transnational synergies in the development of maritime industries, organized by the Ministry of the Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation and moderated by Marcin Osowski, Vice-President for Infrastructure at the Gdańsk Port Authority. The speakers during the debate were: Marek Gróbarczyk – Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Victor Dovgan – Ukrainian Infrastructure Deputy Minister for European Integration, Anna Moskwa – Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti – Minister of Transport and Communications of Qatar, Peter F. Gontha – Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Poland, Karsten Klepsvik – Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Poland, Abdullah Abbas Al-Khanji – Qatar Ports Management CEO, Christophe Tytgat – Secretary General of SEA Europe. This transnational meeting was an excellent opportunity for an exchange of experiences with representatives of countries from outside the Baltic Sea region and for a discussion on plans for the development of maritime industries in the context of international business and economic relations.

The first day of the exhibition also included an Open Meeting of the Shipbuilding Council think tank, the topic being “Naval Fleet Operations: Challenges of Today and Tomorrow”.

The strong position of Poland’s maritime economy is largely due to good business relations. Cooperation among companies and industries from Central and North European countries was the focus of the Nordic and Central Europe Maritime Ties Business Mixer, in which more than 130 companies took part. This unique networking meeting was co-organized by the Polish-Scandinavian Chamber of Commerce, and its gold partners were GREENCARRIER, UNIFEEDER and RӦDL & PARTNER.

Baltexpo 2017 also served as a know-how, education and new technologies incubator. The latest trends in these areas were showcased in specially designed dedicated zones.

The education and job zone, prepared mainly with young visitors to BALTEXPO in mind, was set up together with the Youth Association of Polish Maritime Industries, university-level schools and entrepreneurs. In an accessible way, it presented available opportunities for academic and professional development in maritime industries. The activities on offer included games and consultations with a career advisor.

The centre for innovation and advanced technologies was the zone for learning about often unique technical solutions as well as prototypes. The innovations on display included an Albatros underwater vehicle for marine reconnaissance and cartography, technologies related to a wide range of unmanned marine vehicles for different applications, the concept of a special vessel for removing pollutants from ports, laboratory models, and advanced material technologies.

Offshore wind power was also prominent at BALTEXPO 2017. The event’s first day saw the signing of a letter of intent launching work on forming a consortium of companies interested in building a Polish Supply Chain for a project involving a fully equipped transformer substation for marine wind farms. The idea behind the consortium is to provide a technically advanced and fully fitted product for the market: a transformer substation for offshore wind farms.

Conferences, Seminars, Debates

The three days of the BALTEXPO 2017 exhibition included many conferences, seminars and debates on the most relevant issues related to the development of the Polish and global maritime economy.

The second day of the event was dominated by topics related to infrastructural projects in the maritime economy and inland shipping, including a seminar organized by the Netherlands Water Partnership presenting Dutch experiences with building hydrotechnical infrastructure needed, for example, in the development of ports and inland shipping.

Also on day two, discussions were held on different issues related to new technologies in the shipbuilding and offshore industries, as part of a separate dedicated segment during which you could take part in GAZ-SYSTEM’s seminar on the company’s chain of cooperating partners in building marine energy infrastructure. A debate about the Batory programme and the construction of ferries at Polish shipyards also garnered substantial interest.

The main focus on the third day of BALTEXPO was safety and security, education and protection of the marine environment, which included a seminar presenting the achievements of the Wrocław University of Technology and its partners in the SEMLA and MareNor international research and technology projects.

Besides a large dose of knowledge and many new business contacts, BALTEXPO 2017 was also an occasion for leisure, relaxation and fine dining. This time the BALTEXPO BARBECUE EVENING, which was held at the Olivia Hall in Gdańsk, brought together more than 500 guests, who had a good time into the late hours of the night, enjoying delicious food, good music and the excellent company of the maritime community in a broad sense. The evening’s co-hosts were DNVGL, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway, Remontowa Holding and Marine Harvest.