Aquaculture is one of several ocean industries in Greater Bergen that have evolved in recent years through digital and technological innovation (Photo: The Norwegian Seafood Federation)
Fishing and shipping built Greater Bergen, earning its reputation as the home of the ocean. But what has solidified this reputation has been the region’s – and the nation’s - ability to adapt to new technologies. And as these technologies evolve, they will pave the way for new innovations – and opportunities.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic technological leap forward. As the current technology progresses, industries and nations worldwide have been able to adapt to this digital change or digitalisation.
Digitalisation in Norway
Greater Bergen, much like the rest of Norway, has been quick to adapt to the changing digital landscape. According to a 2021 report, internet and mobile penetration in Norway stood at roughly 99% and 109% respectively. To put this in perspective, virtually everyone in Norway today has access to the internet and a smartphone (or more than one in some cases).
And it’s not only consumers. For many industries, digitalisation has allowed them to automate processes, collect huge amounts of data, process all this information, and provide actionable insights. Many of Norway’s economic sectors have been quick to adapt, and Greater Bergen’s ocean industries have been no exception.
The nation’s shipping industry has, for some time now, been actively engaged in the green shift. This comes in response to Norway’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by 2030 and ultimately reach “net-zero” by 2050. To this end, the industry is investing in alternative technologies, such as clean energy and fossil-free propulsion systems.
Driving these innovative endeavours have been Maritime Bergen and NCE Maritime CleanTech. Both industry clusters work to “reshape what the shipping industry will look like in the 21st century” through tech-driven innovation and digitalisation.
The “Future of the Fjords” is among the next generation of emissions-free seafaring vessels
In addition, cluster members such as Corvus Energy, LMG Marin and Norwegian Electric Systems are investing in research and further developing their expertise in these innovative green technologies.
Propulsion isn’t the only area where the shipping industry is applying innovative technologies. In today’s digital age, where real-time data is easily accessible, many shipping firms have found that customers now expect update-to-date information to be provided on the status of their goods that are being shipped. To meet this demand for data, firms are also now investing in technology to enhance their communication capabilities and real-time global tracking.
Fish and Seafood Innovation
With food security becoming more vital, the world is turning to the sea for solutions. This has led the way for tech and digital innovation in the fishing and aquaculture industries.
“We believe that industry competence, technology, innovation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence are part of the development of the industry,” said Nina Stangeland, Managing Director of NCE Seafood Innovation cluster.
This cluster has been the epicentre of several such initiatives within the seafood and aquaculture industry. Initiatives like Seapoint & Aquacloud combine digitalisation and aquaculture best practices, aiming to optimise the end-to-end processes involved in these industries.
“Greater Bergen is hosting many of these initiatives and is becoming a hotspot for seafood innovation”, said Stangeland.
Recognising the value that the region drives in both seafood and digital innovation, entrepreneurs and start-ups have flocked to Greater Bergen. Tech start-ups like Aquabyte and Manolin – both originally based in the U.S. – are examples of aquaculture firms that have made the move to Greater Bergen and contributed to the ecosystem with their respective digital platforms.
Manolin co-founders John Constantino (l) and Tony Chen were originally based in Colorado before choosing to relocate to Greater Bergen, recognising the value
of a presence here (Photo © Manolin)
Research organisations have also been using digital innovations to further strengthen the region’s knowledge within this realm.
A notable organisation is the Institute for Marine Research (IMR), which is one of Europe’s biggest marine research organisations. Scientists from the institute recently published a research paper outlining how they utilised “new and improved” technologies and big data to track (among other things) real-time movements of certain fish.
According to Christopher Monk, an IMR postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the article, “technological innovations and decreasing costs” are providing unprecedented details on fish and animal movements in their natural habitats. He believes that this data could shed light on previously ignored aspects, such as whether fish deliberately avoid fishing vessels.
Along with being firmly rooted in fishing and shipping, Greater Bergen has been relatively fast in adopting new technologies and applying them to these industries. And as these industries continue to evolve, the region is sure to continue being the epicentre for their digital and technological innovation.
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