Arena status to the Ocean Autonomy Cluster in Trondheim

Published: December 19, 2019

The Ocean Autonomy Cluster in Trøndelag is one of Innovation Norway’s new cluster projects, seeking to strenghten Norway’s global leadership in development and commercialization of autonomous technologies and systems in ocean space.

Norway has a proud history of innovations and achievements at sea and has been a major player on the world’s oceans for more than 200 years. Today, Norway is the global center for innovation and development of autonomous ocean technologies and solutions. Cutting-edge research, innovative companies and a rapidly growing marked for autonomous solutions, all provide unique business opportunities for applications in the ocean space.

The Ocean Autonomy Cluster seeks to utilize these opportunities through combining the experience from Norway’s maritime and offshore industry, developers, suppliers and award-winning R&D institutions. The main goal of the Ocean Autonomy Cluster is to strengthen Norway’s global leadership role in the development and commercialization of future autonomous ocean technologies and systems.

Increasing efficiency

There are currently 23 different participants in the Autonomy Cluster. Their main goal is to contribute to the development of more effective and safer autonomous ocean operations, that will decrease emissions and the carbon footprint of ocean-based industries.

Head of the governing council for the Autonomy Cluster, Eirik Hovstein from Maritime Robotics, say that the cluster will be a natural representative for the participants and for all the companies working on autonomy in Trondheim, Norway’s capital of technology.

– Together, we will present Trøndelag and Norway as a world leader on autonomy within the ocean space.

Autonomous systems are systems that can operate entirely or partly independent. Autonomy is still a relatively new research area, and testing, verifying and commercializing of the technology is needed. New value-chains must be developed, and new laws and regulations are also needed.

From the left: Cluster Advisor at Innovation Norway, Anders Andreassen, Director of NTNU Amos, Professor Asgeir J. Sørensen, COO of FI, Marianne Brøttem, CEO of FI, Bjørn Damhaug, Head of the governing council for the Ocean Autonomy Cluster, Eirik Hovstein, and Minister of Local Government and Modernisation, Monica Mæland. Photo: Tom Hansen/Innovation Norway

– The entire value-chain will be included in the development of autonomous solutions. We want to simplify and improve access to testing infrastructure for industry and researchers. I hope that this will increase the number of spin-offs from the research institutions, and that more companies will be established around the Ocean Autonomy Cluster in Trondheim, Says Hovstein.

Autonomy is still in its early stages of development. New laws and regulations will emerge, with testing, verification and commercialization of different technologies and systems becoming even more crucial.

A new chapter

The Norwegian Innovation Clusters program is meant to help the development of industry clusters in Norway, and to support collaboration between businesses and other organizations.

You can read more about the Norwegian Innovation Clusters program here.

NTNU Amos has been one of the key driving forces behind the cluster, and the Director of Amos, Professor Asgeir J. Sørensen, thinks the cluster could open a whole new chapter in ocean-based autonomy research.

Professor Sørensen hopes that status as an Arena Cluster will help drive the project onwards, and that it will make it easier to gain additional financial support from the Norwegian Research Council and Innovation Norway.

– For me this is part of the ambition to develop Trondheim and Trøndelag into a hub for advanced blue technology, not to mention the potential for creating knowledge-based jobs in the region.

Sørensen claims that collaboration between industry, government and the universities is a recipe for success, and that knowledge transfer between the different organizations and institutions in such a cluster is key.

– NTNU’s participation could potentially function similar to how the universities in the Boston area and Silicon Valley have been a cradle for industry clusters and where new knowledge and cutting-edge solutions are continuously being transferred from the universities to industry, says Sørensen.

The Ocean Autonomy Cluster is managed by FI, an innovation company that also manages and is involved in several other business clusters.

– Trøndelag is the world leader of development of autonomous technologies and systems in ocean space. The industry is showing a great interest in the world of autonomy, so there are several great business opportunities to explore, says CEO of FI, Bjørn Damhaug.

– For us, it is very exciting to take part in this journey and to participate in a sustainable production of wealth from the ocean, says Damhaug.

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