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In the run up to Posidonia, one of Norway’s most mature maritime clusters, the Møre Blue Maritime Cluster, and representatives from emerging maritime related clusters in Greece, met at the Royal Norwegian Embassy on 10 May.

The Norwegian Maritime Cluster in Møre is a central actor and flagship in the effort to future-proof Norwegian maritime leadership and drive innovation in the maritime industry around ship building. It represents 210 companies, including 14 shipbuilders and 170 equipment suppliers. As all actors in the shipping industry, the cluster has gone through very turbulent times over the last years, but Frank Støyva Emblem from the Cluster showed how the crisis in the industry has been turned to an opportunity. Innovation has helped the companies turn to new markets, new products, and apply existing know-how from the oil and gas sector to inter alia aquaculture and blue energy, with a wealth of new prototypes emerging.

The question everyone had come to hear about was “how does the cluster organization add value and facilitate all this innovation?” The answer is manifold: The cluster organization promotes strategic collaboration between companies, knowledge providers and public sector – by e.g. securing research grants on behalf of smaller companies, representing the companies vis-à-vis governmental institutions in advocacy and identifying areas where companies can benefit from collaboration. Attracting young people to the maritime sector is one example, another being tackling challenges that all must deal with such as cyber security.

The cluster further promotes increased innovation capability and value creation. They provide a VR lab, a business model lab, a startup lab, a scaleup lab and a student lab, and have recently ensured the regulation of a fjord for testing autonomous vehicles. These facilities are much appreciated by smaller companies that can not invest in such infrastructure alone. The key recommendation from the Norwegian cluster was that any cluster must have an incubator. If new companies are not coming up, the cluster will not be able to compete. The cluster organization also brings in new knowledge through their global and national knowledge links to world-leading technology, industry and knowledge-based institutions. They facilitate expert visits to the cluster region, and bring members jointly out to visit global centres of excellent. The briefing was followed by updates on Greek cluster developments, inter alia the Strategis Maritime ICT cluster, BionianHealth Sciences & Environmental Health Cluster, Blue Growth Pireus, Greek HUB for Blue Energy as well as the PelagosMediterranean Cluster in Blue Energy (BE).Rapid developments are taking place with regards to Greek clusters, and this meeting brought actors together to share experience and exchange views on future cooperation and the market opportunities the clusters bring about.

Norway has a total of 37 clusters, scattered throughout the country, with different levels of maturity. From a Norwegian perspective – the ocean industries will be the key to future economic growth. More than two thirds of Norway's export revenues already come from coastal and ocean based activities – fisheries, aquaculture, shipping and energy production etc.With the maritime clusters, Norway aims to stimulate further growth, jobs, new industries and opportunities. With support from the Government, the maritime industries, research institutions and other organizations, the clusters are taking active steps to drive innovation, cross-sectoral integration and thinking.Norway looks to Greece, and believe it is timely to develop a strategic partnership to exploit future opportunities.

White Paper “The Role of the Oceans in Norwegian Foreign Policy”: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dokumenter/meld.-st.-22-20162017/id2544710/

The Norwegian Government’s Ocean Strategy: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dokumenter/the-norwegian-governments-ocean-strategy/id2552610/

About the Møre maritime cluster: http://www.bluemaritimecluster.no/gce/the-cluster/