The European Seas have long been a treasure trove of underwater cultural heritage. Recognizing the importance of preserving, conserving and promoting this rich heritage, 20 partners from across the European Union have embarked on a collaborative initiative known as the “Blue Culture Technology Hubs (BCTHubs)” project.

Goals and Objectives:

At the heart of the project lies a noble aspiration: to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cultural heritage Blue Economy sector of Europe. Through a network of thematic hubs, the project aims to facilitate cooperation, exchange of knowledge, and capacity-building among diverse stakeholders involved in heritage conservation. Our efforts are focused on implementing innovative research and innovation (R&I) solutions for underwater cultural heritage (UWCH), designing new pilots and demonstrations, and engaging in cohesive outreach activities. The project also develops a cross-border joint R&I Strategy, mapping the stakeholders of each Hub, and implementing an endorsement campaign and also methodologies for training workshops. Proposals for training courses will be developed and coordinated by BHF to address specific issues, with ongoing discussions to ensure alignment with project goals and maximum impact. Additionally, physical spaces for hosting the three Hubs will be established. In Greece, the Hub will be initially situated within the University of Thessaly in Volos, with additional efforts to secure potential allocation space. In Bulgaria, the Hub will be near the town of Sozopol, with renovation works already in progress. In Malta, the Hub is presently located within the ITS Qala Campus in Gozo, with plans for relocation to new premises in SmartCity Kalkara by the end of 2026. These national hubs serve as focal points for research, education, and community engagement, thereby nurturing a vibrant ecosystem of collaboration and innovation. The project also addresses challenges in preserving UWH, focusing on raising awareness, improving expertise, tackling artefact recovery challenges, prioritizing education, and promoting collaboration.

Key Features:

The project stands out for its collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, uniting experts from diverse backgrounds such as archaeology, academia, businesses, and the public sector. Through this collective expertise, the project aims to address the complex challenges inherent in underwater heritage preservation. By implementing innovative research and innovation solutions, designing new pilots, and conducting outreach activities, training programs and courses, the project seeks to raise awareness and foster collaboration. Additionally, the development of a cross-border R&I Strategy and the establishment of physical hubs facilitate effective engagement with stakeholders and the execution of project objectives. With ongoing collaboration and continuous refinement of methodologies, the project strives to optimize outcomes and make a meaningful impact in the field of underwater cultural heritage preservation.

Outcomes and Impact:

Through its collaborative efforts and interdisciplinary approach, the project is poised to deliver a range of tangible outcomes. The establishment of BCT Excellence hubs, coupled with the formulation of a cross-border R&I strategy and along with the relevant training and courses, coordinated by BHF, will provide a solid foundation for addressing the multifaceted challenges of underwater cultural heritage preservation. By implementing innovative prototype solutions and engaging in cohesive outreach activities, the initiative aims to empower local communities and institutions to take proactive measures in safeguarding their cultural heritage beneath the waves. These efforts hold the promise of leaving a lasting impact, ensuring that invaluable underwater treasures are preserved and celebrated for generations to come.

Looking Ahead:

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the project is its emphasis on collaboration. By  between academia, heritage professionals, policymakers, and local communities, the initiative transcends boundaries and bridges divides, uniting diverse voices in a shared mission of cultural stewardship. As we look to the future, the Blue Culture Technology Hubs (BCTHubs) project stands as a beacon of hope and possibility. Through its collaborative ethos and unwavering commitment to underwater cultural heritage conservation, the initiative serves as a model for similar collaborations around the world, demonstrating the transformative power of cooperation in preserving our shared past for generations to come.