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Maritime 21 - The Industry Calls For More R&D

The Norwegian maritime industry has called for the government to allocate NOK 505 million per year in research and innovation starting in 2012. The goal of the new strategy, Maritime 21, is to shift the focus from many small projects to fewer ones with larger impact and make Norway the most attractive place for a global, knowledge-based and environmentally robust maritime industry by 2020.

The Norwegian government first initiated the creation of the maritime research and innovation strategy Maritime 21 in 2008. The impetus was the multitude of voices advising the Norwegian ministry of trade and industry how public research money should be allocated to the maritime industry, according to Erik Dyrkoren, Maritime 21 project leader and secretary for MARUT, the cooperative effort between the government, regulatory bodies and the maritime industry within maritime research and innovation. The problem was there were too many initiatives. The government felt there was a need to get one voice.

“The main important one (reason for Maritime 21) is that maritime research has been given more funding through the Research Council, but there are too many small projects in too many companies,” said Dyrkoren. “There are no real success stories. It is better to focus more money on fewer areas.”

Top maritime managers handing over the Maritime 21 strategy to Trond Giske, Norway’s trade and industry minister. From left: Tor Svensen, DNV; Elisabeth Grieg, Grieg Int.; Helle Hammer, Cefor; Torfinn Kildal, Kongsberg Maritime; Harald Ellingsen, NTNU Marine; Tore Ulstein, Ulstein Group; Oddvar Eide, MARINTEK; Trygve Eiken, Wärtsilä; Tor S. Andersen, Rapp Marine; Yngvil Åsheim, NR; Trond Giske. © Odd Rudjord/DNV

Seven Priorities

The Norwegian maritime industry responded by conducting six workshops across the country collecting comments from around 400 people in more than 100 companies. The results were handed over to the Norwegian trade and industry minister this June in the Maritime 21 strategy report. In it, the industry called for the government to grant NOK 505 million per year in research and innovation starting in 2012 in seven priority areas: knowledge hub and infrastructure, maritime policy and framework conditions, maritime innovation and business development, effective and environmentally friendly energy utilization, LNG distribution and use, demanding maritime operations, and transport and operations in the northern territories.

This represents a significant jump from the current NOK 200 million per year in government funding allocated to the maritime sector. However, it represents only a modest one-quarter of the NOK 2 billion the maritime industry itself uses for research, said Dyrkoren. This in turn could lead to larger amounts of money being spent by the companies for larger projects. Demonstration projects in particular are capital intensive and require much government funding to work out a prototype.

“When we ask for more money from the government, we also expect the industry to give more money,” said Dyrkoren. “That’s a given.”

LNG & the Environment
Maritime 21 has begun by working with two priority areas – LNG distribution and use and effective and environmentally friendly energy utilization – with the goal of having a concrete project plan in advance of the government’s fiscal budget for 2012. The reason for beginning with those two is because there is so much technology available, but still a need for more focused support from the government, said Dyrkoren. LNG for example requires research money to solve the problems related to the fuelling process and tanker space for LNG ships.

The working group within LNG is managed by DNV and comprises key actors from all segments of the LNG-fuel industry. Its goal is to have 30% of the Norwegian fleet gas driven by 2020 and to establish a competence and expertise on LNG development, operation and distribution as a Norwegian export product. It has recommended active dissemination and increased general knowledge about LNG, identification of markets that are best suited for LNG as a fuel, influencing international regulations concerning safety and the environment, and specific research programmes within LNG as a fuel source.

Within effective and environmentally friendly energy utilization, SINTEF is managing a group of industry experts. Here the goal is for Norway to adapt to meet the future oil shortage and become preferred as the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient in the world.

Demanding Operations
However, demanding maritime operations will be the area most likely requiring the most funding. According to the Maritime 21 strategy report, the industry will need NOK 150 million per year out of the NOK 505 million in requested government research and innovation funds. That is because it is the widest area, encompassing shipbuilding, operations, and management.

“This is where Norway stands out in the market,” said Dyrkoren. “We know how to build them, we know how to equip them, and we know how to run them. Some of the research areas are also demanding. Norway has an edge on virtual prototypes, but this requires a lot of collaboration. As a whole it is a large niche and complex.”

All seven groups are working on producing a clear project plan to help the government understand the need for increased funding in these areas. The hope is that the other five working groups will have their plans in place in time for the government’s 2012 fiscal budget as well so that politicians will have time to approve Maritime 21’s funding request. So far, the proposal has been received positively.

“Knowledge is the key to growth in the face of climate change, competition from emerging economies and way out of crisis,” said Trond Giske, Norway’s trade and industry minister, when he received the Maritime 21 report this June. “If we focus on competence, the maritime industry in Norway has all the prerequisites for success and remaining one of our most important industries – perhaps the most important. I think the work with Maritime 21 and the underlying elements will help strengthen maritime research so that we can achieve precisely the goals we have set for ourselves.”

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