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Commerce’s Office of Economic Development Director Chris Green signed a MoU with Gro Eirin Dyrnes, regional director of innovation Norway

Washington state and Norway agree to cooperate in maritime technology innovation

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Saturday, May 18, 2019, 00:10 (GMT + 9)

Maritime, environmental, fisheries and other technologies are emphasized in a memorandum of understanding between Washington state and Norway’s national economic development agency.

Following remarks by Ambassador of Norway to the U.S. Hon. Kare Aas, and Washington Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib at Nordic Innovation Summit, officials formalized an agreement to promote economic cooperation and develop trade relations between Washington and Norway’s ocean industries and complementing ecosystems.



Chris Green, director of the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness at the Washington State Department of Commerce, and Gro Eirin Dyrnes, regional director of Innovation Norway, signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) encompassing maritime, environmental, fisheries and other technology.

“We both place emphasis on fostering an environment of innovation as a key driver for economic growth, and recognize and value the potential benefits of collaboration,” Dyrnes said.

Citing demonstrated global leadership and shared economic and environmental goals by Norway and Washington state, the MOU stipulates areas of cooperation in maritime technology innovation and the Blue Economy, including:

  • Decarbonization of vessels, such as hybrid, full electric and alternative fueled vessels and association infrastructure;
  • Ocean technology innovation, including support for development and expansion of offshore marine renewable energy, sub-sea sensors, gliders and robotics;
  • Modernization of fishing and seafood by engaging sustainable fishing companies, equipment suppliers, processing technology developers and sustainable aquaculture for business, knowledge sharing and tech transfer, and
  • Maritime digitization, sharing market opportunities for growth in data analytics, internet-of-things (IoT), blockchain and other technology for smart ports and sustainable shipping.

A second area of cooperation in clean technology calls for creating business development opportunities in clean transportation, power generation, grid modernization, renewable energy, energy storage, high performance buildings and others.

Photo of the participants in the ceremony

“We are honored to enhance our relationship with Innovation Norway as we work together to address one of the world’s great challenges and opportunities – developing a sustainable ocean economy. Merging our significant strengths in technological innovation with our working waterfronts, we are well-positioned to accelerate solutions for adapting and mitigating the impact of climate change while creating jobs that strengthen communities for generations to come,” said Commerce Director Dr. Lisa Brown.

“Washington shares with Norway a deep and abiding commitment to model environmental performance and best practices for sustainable maritime worldwide. This agreement enhances an incredibly innovative, productive partnership, and furthers our Maritime Blue strategy for growing economies, healthy ecosystems and resilient communities,” said Chris Green, assistant director of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness.

“Innovation Norway sees tremendous potential in Washington state to scale Norwegian businesses that serve to address the triple bottom line – business, environmental, and social – while helping to solve concrete challenges that the state and its industries face in reducing their CO2 emissions.  At the same time, Norway is open for business and collaboration is welcome from Washington-based businesses that wish to leverage their know-how and talent to our first-mover market that can serve as a test bed for innovations. One concrete area for collaboration and co-development is clearly in ocean-based industries where we have a lot to learn from each other and can together work toward greening the blue economy,” said Gro Eirin Dyrnes, regional director Americas of Innovation Norway.

Norway's ambassador to the U.S., Kåre R. Aas (right), meet with the Washington State Director of commerce, Lisa Brown (center)— strengthening cooperation btw Washington & Norway on sustainable maritime transport initiatives

Håkon Haugli, the CEO of Innovation Norway, supports the memorandum by saying that “Norway has always had a strong connection to Washington state, dating back to the first Norwegians settlers in the 1880s to ever-closer business ties in this century. This MOU builds on that heritage and shared values toward pioneering sustainable solutions to the biggest environmental challenges of our day. Norway knows that we cannot solve these challenges alone, and it is only through collaboration with like-minded actors that we will meet our ambitious sustainability goals under the Paris Agreement. Innovation Norway is proud to share a leadership role with Washington state to share best practices on implementing climate solutions that will equally ensure economic impact through mutually beneficial investment and trade opportunities.”

The MOU signing ceremony was part of Nordic Innovation Summit 2019, a full day of presentations, panel discussions, TED-style “lightning talks” and other activities at the National Nordic Museum in Ballard. Innovation Norway, owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, and county authorities through the collaboration known as Nordic Innovation House, is a partnering sponsor in the summit.


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