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Meetings in Sines: geographic importance within the scope of the EU and Global Digital Transition boosted with EllaLink


Meetings in Sines at ZILS Conference: Letf to Right on stage Gonçalo Eiras, Norman Albi, Olivier Labbe, Alberto Passos. On screen Afonso Salema, Enrico Banfi and Philippe Dumont.

EllaLink, the state-of-the-art optical fibre submarine cable that connects Europe with Latin America, partnered with the recently founded Sines Tech to support the organization of the conference "Meetings at ZILS: Sines Tech, EU-Atlantic Data Gateway Platform" that happened in Sines..

Some good announcements were revealed during the conference related to great projects on Data centers and Submarine cables that will be landing in Sines – a great gateway to Europe from the Atlantic. The conference allowed a practical reflection on the current role and potential of ZILS in implementing the European data strategy and in creating a single data market that meets the European Union's goals for global competitiveness in this area by creating the EU-Atlantic Data Gateway Platform.

The first part of the programme included a round table discussion on "Regulation and National Licensing" with the presence of distinctive entities that form part of the working group for streamlining procedures and bureaucracies for projects in these areas, key aspects for the competitive positioning of Portugal. Participants include Augusto Fragoso, Director-General of Information and Innovation at ANACOM; José Manuel Marques, Portuguese Directorate-General of Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services; and Nuno Lacasta, Chair of the Portuguese Environment Agency.

A major conclusion on this panel is the fact that promoters that now wish to land a new cable in Sines or start any other investment withing the Sines Tech environment, will encounter an ease structure and process. All Panellists attending were even in mentioning the importance of working with promoters form day-0 to know their expectations and to be able to offer the best reply.

The second part was dedicated to "Submarine Cable Stations and Data Centres in Sines", with the presence of all the players in the submarine cable area (Philippe Dumont, CEO of EllaLink; Norman Albi, CEO of Medusa Submarine Cable System; and Alberto Passos, business director at IP Telecom), and of the European submarine cable manufacturer (Enrico Banfi, Alcatel Submarine Networks VP EMEA & APAC), who have presented his vision of the European market and Sines. On the data centre side, one of the top construction companies responsible for the study that certified Sines as an ideal location for this type of structure will be present (Olivier Labbe, general manager of CAP DC).

Olivier Labbe reinforced that “Sines has is all: green power potential - with an enormous solar exposition; and the water colling availability due to the proximity of the ocean”

Also participating is START Campus (Afonso Salema, CEO), which is currently preparing the ground for the construction of the first mega data centre building in Sines, a project that will employ some 1,200 people.

All panellists highlighted how they intend to take advantage of the structure being created in the Portuguese city to leverage new business and market trends in the coming years. The creation of an EU-Atlantic Data Gateway Platform in Sines was seen as a way to ensure the Portuguese city's strategic importance to the European Union's digital policy.

Philippe Dumont also pointed that the submarine fiber optic cable between Fortaleza and Sines goes beyond the direct connection between Latin America and Europe. "Since the cable went live in June, we have added Madeira Island and Cape Verde to the network and are working to, in the near future, include an African branch that will benefit other cities in the continent," he said. "For these countries, the EllaLink cable is of paramount importance to connect them to the rest of the world," he added.

When asked how he envisions the Sines technology hub ten years from now, Dumont said the trend is to see replicated in Portugal the same concentration of technology companies that exist today on the east coast of the United States, namely in Ashburn, which is home to approximately 100 data centers. "Sines should attract other investments in fiber optic cables and datacenters aimed at the European market," he said.

With recent investments, ZILS has clearly positioned itself as a preferred location from a geostrategic point of view with regard to digital strategy. This includes a €150M project to moor the Ellalink fibre-optic data cable, co-financed by the European Union and connecting Europe (Sines, Portugal) to South America (Fortaleza, Brazil). In addition to this transport infrastructure, another project in the field of data storage which is complementary to this strategy of creating a digital ecosystem is the installation by ZILS of the largest data storage campus powered by renewable energy in Europe, the START Campus, representing an investment of €3.5 billion.

Sines Tech offers a competitive location for the development of this ecosystem for tech companies: a high-voltage electricity grid; renewable energy; water reservoirs (for cooling); the connectivity of the deep water port (for the mooring of data cables from anywhere in the world); communication routes, geographical location and safety.

The Sines Tech - Innovation & Data Centre Hub community has been recently founded by various public and private entities for the creation of an information and communication technology cluster, including Sines Municipal Council, aicep Global Parques, the EllaLink group, Fast Fiber, the National Scientific Computing Unit of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT/FCCN Unit), IP Telecom, REN Telecom, Sines Tecnopolo and START - Sines Transatlantic Renewable @ Technology Campus. The members of this community share a vision to create an open digital ecosystem where data can be made available and shared securely, respecting European regulations.

This Conference was organised under the Invest in Alentejo programme, led by ADRAL – Alentejo Regional Development Agency, and co-funded by Alentejo 2020. he Sines Industrial and Logistics Zone (ZILS) is the largest business hosting area in Portugal and is managed by aicep Global Parques - Gestão de Áreas Empresariais e Serviços S. A., which also promoted this event.


11:30 - Welcome
Filipe Costa, CEO of aicep Global Parques and non-Executive Board Member of ADRAL
11:35 - Keynote
Hugo Santos Mendes, Secretary of Communications at the Ministry of Infrastructure

12:00 - Panel #1 “Portuguese Regulation and Licensing”

Moderator: Teresa Ribeiro, aicep Global Parques
Augusto Fragoso, Portuguese Telecom NRA (ANACOM) DG Information and Innovation
José carlos Simão, Portuguese DG Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services
Nuno Lacasta, Chair of the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA)

12:30 - Networking Lunch

14:45 Panel #2 “Sines CLSs & DCs ecosystem”

Moderator: Gonçalo Eiras, aicep Global Parques
Afonso Salema, CEO of START - Sines Transatlantic Renewable & Technology Campus
Alberto Passos, Telecom Business Diretor at IP Telecom
Enrico Banfi, Alcatel Submarine Networks VP EMEA & APAC
Norman Albi, CEO of Medusa Submarine Cable System
Olivier Labbe, General Manager of CAP DC
Philippe Dumont, CEO of EllaLink

15:45 Closing remarks
Eurico Brilhante Dias, Secretary of Internationalization at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

16:00 - End Coffee & Networking

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