Norway’s history as a maritime nation has provided a strong foundation to its present status as a formidable maritime cluster. Now, the highest levels of Norwegian government and industry are working closely together with the Oslo Maritime Network and the Norwegian School of Management in the development of a global maritime knowledge hub – combining the best of industry, governmental support, research and academia.
The idea for development of the Global Maritime Knowledge Hub originated with Professor Torger Reve at the BI Norwegian School of Management. The Oslo Maritime Network and the Norwegian Shipowners Association joined into launch the project, now providing a secretariat, headed by former Minister of industry, trade and shipping, Mr. Ansgar Gabrielsen. There is a strong emphasis on the Global Maritime Knowledge Hub as being a national project that reaches to the far corners of the globe. As Professor Reve indicated at the opening of launching of the project in June 2008, “There is room in the world for two or three global maritime knowledge hubs. Norway can be one of them.”
In discussing the Knowledge Hub, Professor Reve refers to examples such as Boston (life sciences) and the Silicon Valley (information technology) when describing the future of the Norwegian maritime industry. The country is well-positioned to reach this goal, based on number of factors that have made Norway into a global force within the maritime sector, not in the least the fact that the country has been successfully sailing the seas since the Viking times.
|Professor Torger Reve, head of the BI Center for Maritime Competitiveness.
National Norwegian Emphasis
Strong areas of maritime expertise are found throughout the country, with the main centers of expertise being in Oslo as well as the western part of the country. Strengths within ship building, shipping equipment, and support and service to offshore operations give the sector its base – and a strong focus on maritime R&D that provides the basis for the Norwegian Maritime Knowledge Hub.
The high level of knowledge in Norway leads to many innovative projects and activities from such organizations as the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (MARINTEK). A part of SINTEF, MARINTEK does cutting-edge research, development and technical consulting in the maritime sector for industry and the public sector. Other key players include the Research Council of Norway with the Centres of Excellence (CoE) programme devoted to long-term basic research and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.
This knowledge is reinforced by an ongoing commitment in general by the Norwegian Government as part of its Maritime Strategy, the initiative laying the groundwork for maintaining Norway’s position as a world leader in maritime industries and provides a blueprint for expanding the sector through greener technology. By taking an environmentally positive stance in the new strategy, the government is supporting the Norwegian maritime cluster in continuing as a trendsetter for the global shipping industry.
Global Cooperation & Higher Education
This high level of knowledge is a prerequisite for development of the Maritime Knowledge Hub, in addition to wide cooperation with global maritime leaders such as Singapore, Japan and China. This cooperation is made on a number of levels, not in the least being the development of educational programmes that will bring the best and the brightest of new generations into the maritime industry.
In order to facilitate this continued development on the educational level, Norwegian shipowners, maritime service companies and knowledge centres have committed to sponsor professorships at educational institutions of their choice at a total of nearly USD 10 million over a five year endowment period. Thus far a total of ten professorships have been created, the majority at NTNU, ensuring an excellent balance between education, training and research.
Donors thus far are Det Norske Veritas (DNV) with two professorships, and Kongsberg Maritime, IM Skaugen, Wilh. Wilhelmsen, MARINTEK, Tschudi Shipping, and Leif Höegh each providing financing for one position. The ultimate goal is 20 professorships at institutions around Norway. International recruiting of both professors and students to the various programs will be core to the success of the ambitious initiative. The first professorships are to be in place by the start of the school year 2009.
The specific area of study for each chair will be determined by donors and institutions together, but that maritime environmental issues will be given high priority. This is an important part of creating a national research synergy that will see continued development of innovation on a number of levels, technical, commercial as well as related to the all-important climate and energy consumption as areas of central focus in the Norwegian maritime industry.
|Companies and organizations such as Det Norske Veritas, Kongsberg Maritime, IM Skaugen, MARINTEK, Tschudi Shipping, Leif Höegh and Wilh. Wilhelmsen play an important role in the Global Maritime Knowledge Hub.
A Bright Future
Norway is in a good position to attract talents and technology on a global basis when it comes to the maritime sector, much as we see Singapore and Shanghai are doing in Asia. “The Norwegian maritime sector seems to be making the knowledge investments it takes to become one of the leading maritime knowledge hubs in the world. Shipping used to be steel. Today it is knowledge business", says professor Torger Reve who heads BI Center for Maritime Competitiveness