Cronicle: Ocean Technology Companies - Strong Growth and Optimism

Cronicle: Ocean Technology Companies - Strong Growth and Optimism

Av Ragnar Eggen, CFO Clean Sea Solutions
og Frode Halvorsen, leder Ocean Autonomy Cluster

The Impello analysis indicates stagnation in the number of technology companies in the Trondheim region. However, beneath the Impello radar, we observe robust growth and optimism among companies in the ocean technology sector. This is welcome news that Techno Capital must further facilitate.

The recent user analysis for Nyhavna, commissioned by the Municipality of Trondheim and the Strategic Forum Nyhavna, documents the growth in marine activities. Companies identified within the ocean technology sector have increased their value creation by over 70% from 2020 to 2023. The vast majority of them foresee continued strong growth.

Recently, the Impello analysis for 2023 was presented. This annual report provides an overview of the state of the technology industry in the Trondheim region. The bottom line is that the growth in the number of technology companies has slowed down, and there are fewer new establishments in the region now compared to the peak years of 2016-2018. With 777 technology companies, the Trondheim region is far from the ambitious goal of 1000 companies by 2025.

Nyhavna 160224 Foto Lars Bugge Aarset FI (13)Ragnar Eggen, CFO Clean Sea Solutions. Photo: Lars Bugge Aarset/Ocean Autonomy Cluster

Therefore, it's interesting to note the thriving state of the mapped ocean technology companies. They share several characteristics: they are primarily involved in mapping, monitoring, control, and data collection, delivering to the offshore, seafood, and security sectors. They largely work with drones, sensors, and software in maritime environments. Many of these companies are less than ten years old, and their employees predominantly have technology education from NTNU; many begin here directly after their studies.

We see a grassroots movement of startup companies, individual institutes at NTNU, and student initiatives associated with Nyhavna and the port areas. This isn't the result of one major decision or a single plan. The environment has evolved through many organic forces. They have been aided by established technology companies and NTNU, but also by a heavyweight like Trondheim Harbor, and the industry cluster Ocean Autonomy Cluster, which gathers many marine companies and has taken an international position.

Nyhavna faksimiler

Interest in ocean technology from abroad in Trondheim is increasing. Norway is highly trusted and known for delivering quality products. Some companies succeed because they manage to compete on price, making high technology accessible to more. Some align with the trend of increasing activity related to mapping the seabed and marine areas. Some contribute with new technology that enables more efficient vessel operations with fewer crew, directly addressing a situation of crew shortage and demands for sustainable operation. We also see increased interest in ocean technology for security and preparedness, not only within defense but also for security and preparedness related to climate change, lessons from the pandemic, environmental monitoring, biodiversity, and various other purposes.

Ocean technology companies build advanced technology and export globally. In total, around thirty actors have in common the need to test equipment in water – ideally in coastal areas and fjords. The location and access to quayside, test basins, and the test arena Trondheimsfjorden are crucial for them to be where they are. This access is also vital for ensuring that companies remain in Trondheim in the future.

Nyhavna 160224 Foto Lars Bugge Aarset FI (1)Frode Halvorsen, manager Ocean Autonomy Cluster. Photo: Lars Bugge Aarset/Ocean Autonomy Cluster

The user analysis for Nyhavna reveals that physical test and demonstration arenas are the most important criteria for choosing a location, followed by access to competent staff, opportunities for scaling and growth, access to students, and flexibility in space. Nyhavna is ranked as the preferred location number one, ahead of Brattøra and Grilstad. This sends a clear message that the city must ensure that there are industrial areas and buildings close to the quayside and the fjord to ensure that marine technology companies continue to grow in Trondheim.

The strong growth in ocean technology is one of the reasons for establishing the Strategic Forum Nyhavna. The environment needs to make itself more visible and heard. What has already emerged provides the basis for developing a world-leading environment for marine technology – Silicon Harbor Trondheim. An environment where new technology companies emerge, and established companies want to establish themselves.

To succeed in developing Silicon Harbor Trondheim, with ambitions for the world's best marine technology environment, we must consider the marine technology environment as a resource and driving force in the development of Nyhavna. And public authorities, the business community, and knowledge institutions need to be more aligned and work in the same direction.

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