Sigridur Thormodsdottir, senior innovation advisor at Nordic Innovation Centre held the opening speach at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Oslo. Here you can read the speech.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s an honor for the Nordic Innovation Centre to open this scientific pre-conference with the most contemporary theme: Science – the basis for the 21st century marine industries.
Science and even more the industry or businesses are important ingredients to our work at Nordic Innovation Centre since our main mission is to contribute to an innovative Nordic region.
The term innovation can be defined or perceived differently; in our mind the interaction with a market is fundamental; innovation creates economical and/or societal value. Innovation happens in the businesses and is important to all sectors. Knowledge is one of the corner stone for innovation. Knowledge has many sources, one of them is research. This is just to explain where I come from.
I also have to say that in my mind the marine sector is far more than fish, it includes utilization of all marine related resources, technologies and services supplied to the marine value chains and know how. All of this has a value, and can be exported. In that sense I want to refer to an article in Aftenposten the largest newspaper in Norway, where the Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs in Norway, Berg-Hansen said that Norwegian know how in aquaculture could be exported. There are no secrets.
“The future is within the blue”. The Nordic countries have a long history of traditional utilization of the sea as a resource. I think we are about to start a new époque as the future marine sector will be more diversified, making use of this resource in new and innovative ways. Sustainable utilization has to be recognized as a requirement for this transition of the marine sector.
Sustainability is not a new concept in the Nordic countries that have been in the forefront in this matter. Until recently, nature protection has been one of the main drivers. What is new, now, is that both the economical and the environmental crises are forcing a shift where economical growth is linked to sustainable use of natural resources, introducing the concept of “green growth” or green economy”.
The transition to a green economy requires innovation at all levels, policy, social and technological and in all sectors. The marine sector is not excluded. I believe that innovative marine sector utilizing marine resources in sustainable manner can contribute enormously to a greener economy and society.
Technological innovation can help to exploit the potential in the marine value chain; energy savings, better use of the raw material – no waste!
New ingredients or new food, together with new type of communication or concepts can crate change in consumption patterns and thereby health, that is social innovation.
A holistic approach to green growth and industry policy is needed at policy level that includes also the marine sector/industry, it should not be dealt with separately. A new innovative infrastructure is needed that among other things facilitates or supports more systematically flow of knowledge between disciplines, sectors, researchers and the industries. Without utilizing the human resources we will not be able to utilize the natural resources in a best way.
The marine resource may be local, but the market and competition for the marine industry is global. Without combining the human and marine resources the Nordic marine sector will not be able to maintain its competitiveness.
This pre-conference and the conference is an excellent arena for all stakeholders to meet, discuss, listened and learn. Today and during the whole of the main conference, an extraordinary collection of innovative cases will be exposed. Combining new knowhow with the marine sector and simultaneously supporting more sustainable use of the marine resource. Many of the cases are real potentials for tomorrow solutions: spanning from smart and sustainable aquaculture and fisheries to human nutraceuticals and valuable protein from from methan!
Even though the importance of the marine sector differs between the Nordic countries, this sector is important from a Nordic perspective. We believe the sector will benfit greatly from Nordic cooperation. Alone each of the Nordic counties represent small economies, but viewed togheter the Nordic region constitutes the 10. Largest economy in the world.And even more, as we move towards a more high-technological and complex marine sector. We believe that the different competence and strength in each of the countries will contribute to a strong Nordic marine sector that will also be important for future economical growth and welfare in the Nordic region. A Nordic funding consortium lead by Nordic Innovation Centre is now about to launch a Nordic innovation program for the marine sector. The program will focus on innovation related to sustainability, quality and product diversity throughout the marine value chain.
Some say that the marine sector is a sunset sector, Nordic InnovationCentre believes the opposite. The image of the marine sector needs to be upgraded. We have to change common views, create and communicate better knowledge of the marine resources for people to understand the potential of the marine sector. We have to modernize our methods, enhance multi- disciplinary trans-national cooperation, and be Innovative.
I wish you an interesting and fruitful day and conference.