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Unlimited ambitions – with Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz, bound4blue

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This year’s Nor-Shipping Young Entrepreneur Award, held in association with YoungShip International, demonstrated the huge wealth of emerging talent in the global maritime and ocean industries. The quality of the shortlist was exceptional – so much so that we thought it a little “unfair” that only one young entrepreneur (under 40) received the final accolade.

With that in mind we’ve been talking to all of the shortlisted executives to get their unique industry insights. First up we have Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz, COO and co-founder of Spain’s bound4blue.

A breath of fresh air

bound4blue is focused on putting the wind back in the sails of green shipping, literally. The team has developed the innovative eSAIL, a wind-assisted propulsion system based on “active boundary layer control using suction”. This translates to a system that produces six times more lift than a conventional sail, with minimal power consumption and no mechanical complexity, ensuring simple and reliable operations. As a further bonus, an autonomous control system means crews can sit back and enjoy the breeze, with no additional duties or training required.

Now, over to Cristina:

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry, and how can we work together to address it?

Decarbonising shipping, without a doubt! To achieve this, there are two things we need to do.

Firstly, look at the problem with an energy-based approach. Much of the industry is only looking at alternative fuels, such as ammonia or hydrogen, to decarbonise shipping, but this is not the way to go.

It’s only when you view the problem with an energy-based approach that you realise that we already have the tools to make shipping sustainable. Propulsion systems like ours can deliver from 20 to 30% of the power needed across the fleet, solely from wind. If you adopt these and then add operational changes, and bring in some vessel optimisation, we can enable the industry to get well over the 50% energy needed to meet targets.

After that, the rest can be delivered using alternative fuels. 

And secondly, we must move from debate to execution. There is little downside to taking the opportunity to explore new technological solutions, but high risks if we don’t pursue them.

The power of innovation – bound4blue’s eSAIL in action

Why do you think our industry is the right place for young people to work?

The decarbonisation agenda is pushing the industry towards a tech future, which indirectly brings a lot of opportunities for young people, and even for professionals coming from other industries, to jump in. It’s not just about a career at sea. There are infinite possibilities offshore such as in finance, legal, engineering, sales, you name it!

On top of that, this is a vibrant international community, so you get to work with people all around the world on a daily basis.

What change would you like to see within the next five to ten years?

I would love to see a more gender-balanced industry and all stakeholders collaborating to achieve the decarbonisation goals.

Please describe your experience with the Young Entrepreneur Award?

Being nominated as a finalist for the Young Entrepreneur Award is not only a recognition to my own development as an entrepreneur and innovator bringing sustainable solutions to the maritime sector, but also a great recognition for all the team here at bound4blue.

For us, it’s like a pat on the back, telling us that despite all the challenges faced in establishing a pioneering company such as this, we are on the right track!

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