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During this year's Arendal Week, ETN announced a new initiative that means good news for its member companies
During this year's Arendal Week, Energy Transition Norway announced that the energy transition cluster will join forces with GCE Ocean Technology and ÅKP to combine the strengths of the three clusters to form a national cluster. The name will be Ocean Super Cluster Norway, and the aim is to help member companies achieve greater success on the international stage.
With a focus on energy transition, ship and maritime technology, and deep-sea technology Ocean Super Cluster Norway has a better potential to support increased export opportunities.
Chairman of Energy Transition Norway, Tor Arnesen, referred to last year's panel debate at the Arendal Week where discussions centered around alternative models of cluster development, particularly the steps taken by Energy Cluster Denmark. One year ago, Danish energy cluster CEO Glenda Napier shared their experience of having united seven energy clusters into a single national energy cluster after their government decided to do so.
This laid the foundation for enhancing Norwegian competitiveness and assuming a stronger position in the green shift by pooling resources and expertise. However, in Norway, this will be done through a bottom-up approach.
- We are a small country, and we are too small to compete against each other in the global arena. This initiative is about strengthening Norway's competitive power and seizing larger roles in the green shift, said Arnesen.
- It is entirely meaningless to view Norway in light of the West Coast, the South Coast, etc. when seen from Rio or New York, said Owe Hagesæter, who together with his new colleagues Tor Arnesen and Per Erik Dalen has national ambitions with the national cluster initiative.
The founding fathers promise that they will gain greater capacity, relevance, leverage, and a real seat at the table in the wider world.
Ocean Super Cluster Norway will function as a unit that gathers nearly 700 member companies, spanning ship and maritime technology, deep-sea technology, and energy transition, all of which share ocean areas as their common focus. Member companies along the western coastline will experience closer collaboration within more integrated value chains.
Hege Hammersland has been a member of multiple clusters through her company Scantrol. She believes her experience of having to join in and pay for multiple cluster memberships is shared by many business leaders, and she describes the division into separate clusters as "artificial". To her, a more comprehensive cluster encompassing sectors like oil, gas, fisheries, and offshore wind, is good news.
-This will provide better market access and strengthen Norway's position as a united entity on the international stage, she said.
The initiative has secured financial support for a pilot in which the three clusters will explore questions related to building and financing such a national endeavor. Three county municipalities in Western Norway have contributed financially to the pilot project for Ocean Super Cluster Norway, as its ambitions align well with the goal of increased export and green transition.
Support for this ambitious initiative comes from various quarters. Torger Reve, known as the "father of clusters" due to his extensive research on the cluster phenomenon in Norwegian business, supports the initiative. He argued that a more diverse cluster could achieve better commercial scaling towards global markets, overcoming the weakness many existing clusters face.
Håkon Haugli, CEO of Innovation Norway, added that Norway's international market efforts lack clarity, and a supercluster could strengthen "Team Norway" in foreign markets.
There is also recognition that Norway needs to keep pace with the global green transition. Strategy adviser Christian Rangen expressed the need for increased speed and effort in the green transition to compete with countries like the United States and China, which have already made significant strides in battery technology and renewable energy.
As mature cluster’s financing in Innovation Norway’s cluster program eventually will run out, Ole Ueland, Group Leader for the Conservative Party in Rogaland County Municipality, also said the coming together of the clusters makes sense, and that he hopes the political climate changes and will allow for more funding and support in the future.