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Nordic marine industry gathered in Iceland

Harpa concert and conference center. Photo by Harpa
  • Publisert 21.06.2013
At Reykjavik's harbor you will find Harpa concert and conference center. A modern and majestic landmark. Sea meets innovation. A perfect venue for the second Nordic Marine Innovation Conference, where the Nordic marine industry gathered to discuss how the Nordic countries can maintain their competitive edge in the field.



The Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, opened the conference on 5-6 June by saying that he believes that the Nordic cooperation should be cultivated.


- The Nordic cooperation is one of the oldest and most wide-ranging regional partnerships in the world. The Nordic region is well recognized around the world as a coherent region with similar values as well as social and economic structures, the Minister said in his introduction.

Jóhannsson also used his speech to compliment Nordic Innovation and the 14 different projects in the Nordic Marine Innovation program. He was particularly impressed by the fact that the program not only focuses on marine food production, but also sustainability and international competitiveness and innovation.

 - Without innovation there is no progress, and without progress, there is stagnation, Jóhannsson said.


The Minister also pointed out that technology and innovation can drive the marine sector further. Food production related to oceans, rivers and lakes can help to cover food shortage as a result of the rapid population growth in the coming decades.

Will always survive

This challenge was something that Dr Ambekar Eknath also addressed in his speech. Eknath is working for the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA). Southwest Asia stands for nearly 90 percent of the global aquaculture production, and NACA works to facilitate and assist the growth of aquaculture farmers in the region. By 2050, The world population will reach 9.2 billion and Eknarth estimates that aquaculture production in the world must increase by more than 70 percent in order to keep up with population growth.


- We humans have always adapted to challenges like this. We will always survive, Eknath predicted in his speech.


He chooses not to see this challenge as a problem, but rather as an opportunity for fishing and aquaculture industries.



Green growth
Also, Carl-Christian Schmidt who is Head of the Fisheries Policies Division in OECD, spoke about the need for increased use of the oceans associated with population growth. According to Schmidt climate change and increasing pressure on natural resources will have an effect on the increasing use of the sea for food purposes in the future. Schmidt also spoke about interest in green growth and green economy, which has been increasing worldwide in recent years.


Carl-Christian Schmidt (left), OECD and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (right), The Minister of Fisheries during the conference. Photo: Þórir Hrafnsson, Ministry of Industries and Innovation Iceland


From Canada
From Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada Kevin Dunn were invited. Dunn is the director of the Department of Industry Liaison and Innovation, and spoke about the collaboration between companies and researchers at the university. He also spoke about The Halifax Marine Research Insititute, founded by Dalhousie University among others. The institute recently opened and one of the main goals is to increase the level of knowledge of the marine sector among the public.



14 projects
The Marine Innovation Program was launched with the aim to strengthen innovation in the marine sector and increase profits and competitiveness in the region. The program has supported 14 projects that will work with challenges in the sector. The projects range from automated pin bone removal in fish, utilization of algae for energy purposes to projects aiming to improve the attractiveness of the sector. Over 100 people are involved in the program, with participants from the Nordic region and Canada.

During the conference, the projects presented their preliminary results. Through a speed-dating session, the project managers gave the conference participants a brief introduction to their topics. In addition, three of the projects were presented in the plenary session.



Reputation management
Anne Villemoes is the Communications Manager of the meat and slaughtering company Danish Crown. Just as the fishing industry, the meat and slaughtering industry suffers from a bad reputation, and Villemoes talked about how Danish Crown has worked to improve their reputation through openness and ability to put themselves into how consumers perceive them.

Marianne T. Poulsen is Head of the European Innovation Practice at SRI International. SRI International is an independent research institute conducting client-sponsored research and development on behalf of governments, industry, foundations and other organizations. Poulsen spoke about the importance of finding the champions within the sector as they will always succeed. She also highlighted collaboration and sharing ideas openly to move forward in the innovation process.


Supplier industry
Sigridur Thormodsdottir was invited to talk about how the marine industry can maintain its competitive advantage through image building and sustainability. Thormodsdottir focused on the importance of knowing the supplier industry well - to best leverage off and cooperate with suppliers. Thormodsdottir worked seven years in Nordic Innovation, where she primarily worked with the Nordic marine sector. Today she works for Innovation Norway, which is the Norwegian Government's most important instrument for innovation and development of businesses and industries.



Company visits
On the conference's second day, the participants had the opportunity to visit some of Iceland's most exciting and innovative companies. Iceland Ocean Cluster facilitate networking within the marine industry in Iceland and worldwide. The cluster have partners from well-established companies in addition to innovative companies. The role of the Iceland Ocean Cluster is to connect people and businesses within Iceland’s marine industry, as well as helping to seek new opportunities across a variety of fields and regions. The Iceland Ocean Cluster House is located on the harbor in Reykjavik, together with ten other firms working in the marine industry.

Zymetech is a knowledge-based biotechnology company focusing on research and development of enzymes and use of natural products in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Zymetech was established in 1997 by Dr. Jon Bragi Bjarnason, a professor at the University of Iceland.

The tour then went on to Marel, a leading global provider of advanced equipment, systems and services to the fish-, meat- and chicken industries. With offices and subsidiaries in over 30 countries on six continents and manufacturing facilities in 16 different locations, Marel is a worldwide company with over 100 agents and distributors. We had an exciting tour of Marel headquarters outside Reykjavik, including a demonstration of the company's production facilties.


Marel's production facilities


In the small town of Grindavik we visited Stakkavik. Stakkevik is a fish processing company, founded in March 1988. Stakkavík is a modern enterprise with all the latest equipment in fish processing, produced by Marel. Stakkvik exports cod, catfish and haddock with or without skin. They have their own visitor center where they show the entire production process from the fish coming from the sea until it is packaged.

The tour ended at the Blue Lagoon, best known for its idyllic recreation area. The Lagoons ecosystem is unique. Bluish-green algae and white silica forms a natural sediment at the bottom of the lagoon and gives the surface an aquamarine color. The warm water are rich in minerals holds a comfortable average temperature of 37 ° C all year. The resort includes a private clinic for ambulatory treatment for patients with psoriasis and other skin disorders.

The resort also has a department with extensive experience in production of microalgae and extracts for use in cosmetics. The institute do research on microalgae through screening and new types of algae in a geothermal area. They also produces valuable ingredients for use in cosmetics, nutrition, feed, and biofuel production. Our visit to the lagoon ended with a lovely bath and dinner.