Delivering the keynote address to a packed room during the BlueTech Summit & Tech Expo in San Diego on November 8, Pål Narve Somdalen, Counselor for Trade and Industrial Affairs, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Washington D.C., discussed Norway’s role within the maritime, marine, energy and technology sectors, and touched upon areas for collaboration with partners in the U.S. and around the globe.
Now in its ninth running, the annual BlueTech Week encompasses seven events from November 6-10, and this year centers on the theme “smart ocean, smart water.” As Somdalen evidenced in his speech, the “smart” theme is also found throughout the Norwegian approach to the maritime world.
“Norway is and has always been a strong maritime nation,” Somdalen said. The country, too, is a technological forerunner, particularly in the field of marine technology.
Somdalen highlighted Norway’s “new wave of technological innovation,” including a number of world’s firsts, such as an offshore fish farm Ocean Farm 1; a fully electric car ferry Ampere; a designated test site for autonomous ships Tronheim; and a ballast-free, zero-emissions, electric container feeder ship Yara Birkeland that will operate autonomously. He also called attention to the country’s role in pioneering liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel for ships, and spoke about joint research being conducted by firms in the U.S. and Norway into hydrogen fuel for high-speed passenger ferries.
“Why has Norway been successful in this blue tech field?” Somdalen asked. “One important factor is clusters.”
The Maritime Alliance (TMA), host of BlueTech week and a supporter of San Diego’s “blue tech cluster,” has made collaboration and international outreach an integral part of its mission, and has seen its number of international collaborators increase year after year through its various initiatives and work with other clusters around the world.
“All of these examples I’ve talked about here today require collaboration, trust and flexible structures,” Somdalen said. “This is why we want to expand and lift the global dialogue on ocean affairs with all countries, including the U.S., to share experiences and expertise, and to cooperate on measures to promote clean and healthy oceans.”