Consortium as a whole
A good consortium is made of excellent individual partners and an excellent management structure. The result of these basic ingredients can be improved if existing research and/or commercial links already exist between at least some of the partners, since personal and partner relationships helps to establish new, stronger, links in the framework of the project and strengthens the consortium. The partnership includes two really prestigious archaeological research institutions, i.e. the Maritime Museum Tallinn (shortly MMT), active in underwater archaeology since 1978, and the Department for Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity of the Sicilian Region (shortly DBCIS), who is the competent authority for sea archaeology in Sicily. DBCIS is a real pioneer and veteran Institution in the field of marine archaeology (not only in Sicily but also in other areas of the Mediterranean Sea, and Japan). Both MMT and DBCIS are expert and up-to-date users of marine technology in the field of archaeology (such as ROVs, acoustic and optical sensors, GISs, excavating tools, underwater manipulators, securing means etc.). These institutions will assume, at the same time, the role of designers, advisors, and of end-users by:
- Defining the objectives
- Suggesting the best technological solutions for the underwater systems and database organization
- Validating and evaluating the results.
- Issuing the needed permissions for the experimental testing
The lead role of archaeology partners, in addition to the archaeological Advisory Board ensures that the outcome of the project is sound and aligned with real archaeology institutions’ needs and not a mere engineering exercise demonstrating what is possible regardless of the feasibility of real future embodiment into marketable product and services.
The partnership includes four research institutions of excellence with skills in ICT and Robotics. The excellence of such institutions is not only scientific excellence but involves also excellence in the start-up of successful companies capitalizing the outcome of academic research. HWU has probably the best research group in Europe in the field of Ocean Engineering. The presence in the partnership of HWU is a guarantee that what is done in the project is sound for the point of view of innovation and marketability of research outcomes. In particular the head of the HWU team, Professor David Lane, in 2001 founded SeeByte Ltd (http://www.seebyte.com) and, as CEO until 2010, lead the company’s organic evolution from startup to a multi-million dollar organization, growing at an average 45% pa during the recession, continually cash positive, with 75% of its business in exports to three continents and offices in Edinburgh, San Diego and Seattle. TUT has experience in design, construction and control of underwater systems including biomimetic robots and giving birth to several companies and its head, Prof. Maarja Kruusmaa gave evidence of being capable of transferring ideas from the research lab to the market as he is an R&D director of Fits.me, a start-up company using robotics technology for virtual online fitting rooms; UNIFI has a long lasting experience in computational vision as well as the design and control of complex mechatronic systems including AUVs. The head of the UNIFI team, Professor Benedetto Allotta, co-founded of Scienzia Machinale (http://www.smrobotica.it), a company active in the field of robotics and automation with several millions of annual turnover. CNR-ISTI has with specific skills in the field of image processing, 3D representation and organization and management of multimedia databases and give birth so several spin-off initiatives; TWI is a large contract research and development organization with strong background in the field of advanced materials, in particular for underwater applications.
A complementary team of companies belongs to the partnership: EL (SME) providing innovative solutions in the field of underwater robotics/sea technologies, graphics and multi-media production; AMT (SME) with experience in custom design and manufacturing of ROVs, AUVs and underwater housings and instrumentation; NESNE (SME), active in the field of underwater electronic systems for either military applications and civil ones.
Several collaboration links do exist among the partners: HWU and TUT already collaborate in several research projects; UNIFI, CNR-ISTI and EL already collaborate in the framework of the national THESAURUS project, aimed at developing a novel class of sensorised autonomous underwater vehicles. EL has strong links with AMT, NESNE and TWI.
What above shows that the proposing consortium is very well balanced since all the required partner ingredients for a SME-focussed project are present and ready to perform a coral and successful effort:
- excellence institutions with lot of experience in underwater archaeological research
- A complementary team of SMEs with concrete interests and products in various fields of underwater engineering
- Excellent academic and non-academic research institutions with lot of sensibility towards the market.