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Dynamic clusters reshaping the shipping and ocean spaces

Industry defining, changing, entrepreneurial and driven: Is a new breed of industry player emerging as clusters, incubators and start-up accelerators make their mark?

Clusters are an important part of bringing any industry to life. Innovation loves company and the ability to share experiences, ideas and find common goals are critical parts of any search for solutions.

With many of these clusters there is an energy and a buzz, and critical for many of the start-up companies seeking to grow inside a cluster, potential financing.

One of the longest running cluster arrangements is The Maritime Alliance (TMA) based on the US west coast city of Dan Diego. Its president Michael Jones founded the Alliance to give support to a growing range of innovative solutions for the sustainable ocean economy more than 13 years ago.

Michael Jones, president and founder of the San Diego-based TMA

Jones is on the road a lot. He is keen to share experiences of TMA and to learn from other clusters with similar goals, and there’s no shortage today. His job is to promote these bluetech companies and secure bluetech jobs.

There are start-ip accelerators, cluster bodies and other support networks around the world. Port XL with its focus on port and harbour solutions, the newly formed Optima X in Athens that is looking for entrepreneurs with solutions for shipping to join its accelerator programmes. Then in Israel there’s The Dock and the New York Maritime Innovation Centre linked with SUNY maritime college. There’s the Start-up wharf in London and blue economy clusters in France, Spain and Portugal.

Some of these are classical accelerators where a start-up can join a programme to develop its solution or business model over a short sharp period of time. Some are incubators focused on sustainable solutions. Others look at how investment funds are found to support Blue Economy solutions, such as ocean clean up projects. Some are backed with state funds and others work on a solid business venture approach.

The ocean has become dynamic. There is no one model fits all approach to the future ocean and shipping economies and this is why Michael Jones is bringing together a range of clusters and Blue tech solutions to Nor-Shipping.

As Part of the Nor-shipping Blue Economy programme he will host a deducted Think Tank on Innovative Ocean clusters. Around 12 experts are being invited to discuss how to increase collaboration across the range of innovative clusters to help secure a sustainable ocean future across all the business sectors that the OECD sees as part of the ocean future.

But while these experts discuss the future of ocean collaboration and innovation, Nor-Shipping is inviting its visitors to take the time to visit the Think Tanks and listen to what is going on and to even offer their thought and experiences.

The OECD report on the Ocean Economy estimated the value add of the 0ceans industries at $1.5 trillion, in 2010. With the focus on sustainability in society and the need to utilise the ocean resources better, the OECD says this will double to $3 trillion by 2030.

A $1.5trilion increase in economic value over 20 years needs to be done in the right way, and collaboration is key. The Maritime Alliance is possibly the oldest cluster organisation for the blue economy, having been launched in 2007, but there are many now, and many of these that focus on blue solutions for the oceans have formed the Blue Tech Cluster Alliance.

Jones is a big believer in what he calls the triple helix of business, academia and policy makers working together to find the way to support Blue Growth. He is not alone. Many countries are investing in sustainable oceans and many of them will also be in Nor-Shipping in Oslo in June,

Apart from Norway, Portugal and the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam, Port XL,  will be there. The Dock, representing Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit as well as. So will the New York Maritime Innovation Centre.

While Jones will host the Think Tank in the morning of Thursday 6th June, three of the show’s Blue Talks will be exploring the future of clusters.

Unique Blue Talks on Clusters and Accelerators

On Thursday 6th June, on the Blue Talk stage, The city of Rotterdam will host a Blue Talk with Port XL, which runs an accelerator programme for start-ups who with potential solutions to the port clients. And then Optima X in Athens, the youngest of accelerator programmes from one of the oldest of maritime clusters will offer  closing thought on expansion and collaboration in a modernised shipping industry.

The Blue Talks will be moderated by Craig Eason, Editorial Director, Fathom World, and  stretch from the afternoon of Tuesday 4th June to Thursday 6th June. The talks will also host Claire Jolly,  OECD Head of Head, Innovation Policies for Oceans, who is seen as the lead author of the Organisations report on the ocean economy and a more recent report “Rethinking Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean Economy”. She will be joined by Craig McClean, chief scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA has been a strong state backer of the US Blue Economy Drive including the growth of TMA’s cluster among others and securing broad backing to US ocean research.

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