Matthieu Blandin, Neopolia “Our cluster’s state of preparedness for the roll-out of marine renewables is the highest in France”

4 Mar 2020

Neopolia EMR is a key industry player in Pays de la Loire region, a cluster primed for the launch of the first French offshore wind farm off Saint-Nazaire. For Neopolia’s marine renewables manager, Matthieu Blandin, Seanergy couldn’t come at a better time. Interview.


Where does Neopolia EMR’s strength lie?

We have around 100 corporate members from a wide range of backgrounds. This allows our cluster to cover much of the offshore wind value chain, from design to operations and maintenance. As we’re on the Atlantic seaboard, we can draw on the local port facilities, which is pivotal to our positioning on this type of market.

Furthermore, we’ve taken the time to get ready, undertaking study visits and responding to calls for expressions of interest…Today, our cluster’s state of preparedness for the roll-out of marine renewables is the highest in France.

How do your members go about securing contracts to work on the Saint-Nazaire wind farm?

Our members first looked into what resources could be organised and made available in-house. They then leveraged the cluster effect and reached out to partners within Neopolia in order to put together collaborative proposals or to look abroad for opportunities to upskill their workforces. This is now starting to pay off with a number of businesses securing contracts.

You’ve recently undertaken fact-finding trips to Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark. What are the takeaways for you?

These trips were organised as part of standing agreements with EDF-R and EMYN which provide for various business trips and “partner days” with their staff and tier-one suppliers. These business events are aimed at fostering collaboration and developing our solutions with local industrial resources.

The aim of the fact-finding missions was threefold. Firstly, they allowed us to identify the most motivated members. Secondly, we saw on site how turbine manufacturing plants work and gained insights into the logistics bases and maritime coordination centres, etc. They are well ahead of us as marine renewables have been developed earlier in these places. And thirdly, these trips gave us the opportunity to be introduced to potential prime contractors.

What do your corporate members hope to achieve with Seanergy?

With Seanergy, members are offered the opportunity to get seen and known in the sector both here in France and Europe. They also get to meet our clients and prospective clients, etc. This is important because we’ve just learned that the national multi-annual energy plan provides for an extra 1 GW project call for offshore wind which will run up to 2028.

In addition, Seanergy will take place in Nantes in the same year that France’s first commercial offshore wind farm will be launched! What a wonderful coincidence! We must now look to ensure that all our regional industry ecosystems here in Pays de la Loire and elsewhere benefit from the development of offshore wind, which forms part of the national energy transition policy.