Building a national team for autonomous ocean technology with Katapult Ocean

Published: February 1, 2021

The Ocean Autonomy Cluster and Katapult Ocean have established a joint effort to strengthen the international commercialization of Norwegian autonomous technology for ocean space. 

– Norway is at the forefront of ocean space technology that can help solve many global challenges. If we are to succeed in this, we must build a national team for ocean space technology, and stop focusing on regional championships, says Frode Halvorsen, manager of the Ocean Autonomy Cluster and senior adviser in the innovation company Fremtidens Industri (FI).

Ocean Autonomy Cluster is headquartered in the technology capital of Norway – Trondheim – where you also find the world’s foremost environment in technology and autonomy at sea. Unfortunately, the commercialization of the technology is not as good.

– We must be honest enough to admit that although Trondheim is best at technology development, we need to strengthen the commercialization effort and bring the technology into the market, says Halvorsen.

– The challenges we can solve with autonomous technology are global, not local or national. We are talking about major challenges related to climate, environment, and safety, as well as cost and efficiency. That is why it is extra important to build a national team and that we strengthen each other, he continues.

From idea to commercialization

Of the Ocean Autonomy Cluster’s members, nearly half are either in the start-up or growth phase. These are companies that work with new and groundbreaking technology, and which in part, therefore, need relatively large investments. Among the members of the cluster are pioneers such as Zeabuz, who has received international attention for their work with urban autonomous passenger ferries.

– As a business cluster, we want to be able to help our members throughout the development process, from idea to commercialization. In collaboration with Katapult Ocean, we will be able to guide projects to think commercialization from an early point, says Halvorsen.

– Although it is not a given that our members will be admitted to Katapult Ocean, it is something to strive for, and not least an opportunity to get good advice along the way. Much of this is about building the company in the right way, both with the team members, capital, and technology, he adds.

Norwegian companies

Katapult Ocean is a company that invests in and develops early-stage ocean technology companies from all over the world. For their part, this agreement means a better overview of, and possible access to, Norwegian start-up companies.

– Even though we work globally, it is often extra nice to have Norwegian companies in our portfolio. The collaboration with the Ocean Autonomy Cluster gives us a unique insight into technology development and the companies of the future, says program manager at Katapult Ocean, Marcus Hølland Eikeland.

Last summer, Eikeland worked to introduce the American technology company Impossible Sensing to potential Norwegian users. It was through this work that he came into contact with the Ocean Autonomy Cluster.

– We worked for a long time to find a way in for Impossible Sensing and found that the need for test arenas for testing and development of technology was a common denominator for several players. This meant that we, together with the Ocean Autonomy Cluster, arranged a joint webinar with Norwegian, German, English, and American ocean space actors, says Eikeland.

The collaboration on the webinar immediately proved to be a good idea, and Impossible Sensing found three interesting contacts. Since then, the Ocean Autonomy Cluster and Katapult Ocean have continued to work for a more formal collaboration to strengthen the commercialization of Norwegian technology.

The cooperation agreement has now been signed, and the making of a national team in ocean space technology is underway!

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